As it is written in the provisions of Article 17 of the Charter of the United Nations, the financing of UN Peacekeeping operations is the responsibility of all UN member states. The five permanent members of the Security Council, however, are required to pay a larger share to peacekeeping operations because of their responsibility towards international peace and security.
China, one of the permanent members of the Security Council, recently received special attention due to their increased contribution to UN Peacekeeping. During his speech to the UN General Assembly in September last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to contribute 8,000 troops for a UN peacekeeping standby force and to provide $100 million to the African Union to create an immediate response unit. Additionally, President Xi would contribute $1 billion to the United Nations for a “peace and development fund”. This announcement was seen as a response to calls from the United States, who felt that because of their position as a global economic power, China needed to take more responsibilities at the UN.
In the past, China’s contributions to UN Peacekeeping operations has always been high. In fact, China has deployed the most troops to peacekeeping operations compared to the other four members of the Security Council. Nevertheless, given China’s huge defense budget, their past contributions were small in comparison to other big contributing countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan.
China has deployed peacekeepers for the UN missions in South Sudan, Mali, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The largest contingent is in South Sudan, where China is the biggest investor in the oil industry.
China’s rising role in international peace and security affairs has been noted to be a part of President Xi’s effort to show China as a responsible actor in the international field. There has been an overall shift in China’s foreign policy style since Xi Jinping became President in 2012. China’s foreign policy is more self-assured, more pragmatic and converges better with global norms of cooperation. Thus, China’s decision to increase its role in international peace and security is closely linked with how the country is shaping its image and reputation in the global arena. Beijing recognizes the need for China to be more responsive to international expectations and reduce tensions and conflicts. Nevertheless, President Xi dismissed concerns that China’s growing influence in international affairs was a threat. He said in his address to the General Assembly, “We are committed to peaceful development. No matter how the international landscape may evolve and how strong China may become, China will never pursue hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence.”
Today, China is the sixth country in providing funding for UN peacekeeping(1) and ninth in providing troops and police(2). China is the only country that significantly contributes in both troops and also money. If China’s foreign policy continues as described above and their contribution towards UN Peacekeeping continues to increase, China’s role in international peace and security will inevitably also rise.
by Ingrid Silalahi
(1) China follows the top five funding countries which are: United States, Japan, France, Germany and United Kingdom.
(2) The top five troops and police contributors are: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Rwanda.
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