China’s Growing Role in Peacekeeping: Thoughts and Recommendations

I
ts rising economic strength and productive way of governance provide China with a historic opportunity to become one of the main players in modern international relations. As a permanent member of the UNSC and an important player in international relations,

China has the capability and authority to address and solve internationally important problems. In turn, international society is also interested in Beijing continuing its active involvement in the improvements in world security. China’s involvement in UNPKO provides China an opportunity to solidify its reputation in the world as a responsible power and strengthen its position in countries that are at risk. It is notable that China has achieved good relations with several states located in Africa and Middle East compared to Western countries having tense relations. Good relations with so-called rogue states give Beijing opportunities to mediate relations between conflicting parties and help UNSC to get permission from the governments of these countries to allow peacekeepers to their territory. For instance, UN was able to obtain permission from Sudan to send peacekeeping forces into Darfur and end genocidal activities with China’s assistance. The peacekeeping operations map shows that China was mostly involved in operations in Africa. Up to the end of the Cold War, China had not attained an economic and political influence in African and Middle Eastern countries, whereas after the Cold War, the situation changed, as China made huge investments in these areas. China’s economy continues to grow, and this process is made possible with the help of secure and accessible energy resources from reliable partners. China is buying most of its energy resources from the Middle East and Africa, which is the main reason why China participated primarily in ongoing peacekeeping operations in these areas. Indeed, China wants to maintain stability in these areas to obtain energy resources without problems. Moreover, peacekeeping operations and peacebuilding can be helpful for the Chinese “New Silk Road Economic Belt” as this program may be possible in areas that are stable and safe for Chinese investments. If the Chinese “New Silk Road Economic Belt” program is successful, it can make great contributions to the development of the countries located from the Far East to Europe and from the Far East to the Middle East and Africa. New workplaces and economic prosperity would make the world more secure and stable.

It is also worth mentioning that Beijing’s involvement in UN peacekeeping operations enhances China’s reputation as a responsible power. After the 2000s, China can be considered one of the main contributors to the UNPKO and continues to improve the knowledge of its personnel that are recruited for peacekeeping operations. within a short period of time, China succeeded in establishing its schools and structures to prepare well-qualified peacekeepers. China was successful in creating friendly ties with other countries that are involved in peacekeeping operations and in organizing joint landmark conferences, trainings and seminars, in addition to sharing its experiences with them. China’s peacekeeping facilities are open to training peacekeepers from China and other countries.

Conclusion and Recommendations

As an active participant in peacekeeping operations, China plays an important role in maintaining peace worldwide. Peacekeeping operations provide Chinese and foreign troops opportunities to cooperate and share experiences. This cooperation will provide an added impetus to the international community to improve its mechanism for preventing genocide, ethnic cleansing and aggression and will create opportunities for the international community to improve and strengthen its methods of cooperation in joint operations intended to prevent wars and/or natural disasters.

China endorsed the “Brahimi Report” and began to support its implementation. China also voted for several resolutions (1265, 1295, 1674, 1820, 1894) aiming to take more reliable action to protect civilian populations during military conflicts. Beginning in 2008, Beijing was involved in the struggle against piracy. As a responsible power, China’s naval force defended not only its own vessels but also foreign vessels.

In general, China’s peacekeepers were involved in peacekeeping operations in Africa, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Middle East and North America. As China strengthens its position as a great power and Chinese companies increase their investments in countries that are located in the so-called “Silk Road Economic Belt,” Beijing will increase its role in peacekeeping operations to make this territory safe and stable. The stability of the main communication roads from the Far East to the Middle East, Africa and Europe will give the Chinese government the opportunity to attempt to actualize Xi Jinping’s “Silk Road Economic Belt” project. The main argument of the above-mentioned hypotheses is that China sent its first infantry battalion for UN peacekeeping to the South Sudan for the first time in 2014, which means that China revised its traditional position, choosing to participate in the enforcement of peace. In turn, the international community is also interested in China deepening its role and sending more troops to UN peacekeeping operations because China offers both quality and quantity. UN officials have praised Chinese peacekeepers for their professional work during peacekeeping operations. For instance, on June 19, 2013 In Beijing UNSC Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon made several remarks on China’s involvement on peacekeeping operations, “I have seen the bravery of Chinese blue helmets helping struggling communities around the world. China provides more peacekeepers to the UN than all of the four other permanent members combined. I applaud this solidarity.” The cooperation between China and other countries that are involved in peacekeeping improves the level of the world security. China also opened several training facilities to improve the skills of Chinese peacekeepers. At these centers, China hosts and trains foreign peacekeepers.

In sum, from 2000–2013, China increased its involvement in peacekeeping and served as an active participant in ongoing operations. China’s policy on peacekeeping helped to sustain peace in different countries and maintain world peace and stability. China is an active participant in peacekeeping operations and thus plays an important role in maintaining peace. China’s policy on peacekeeping has helped to sustain peace in different countries and to maintain world peace and stability.

Recommendations to the UN

China’s expanding engagement in UN peacekeeping provides good opportunities for the UN to solve the problem of shortages in the contributions of troops, which appeared when Western countries reduced their involvement in peacekeeping. The relevant UN agencies and officials could consider the following measures:

  1. Encourage China to send more military units.
  2. Encourage those countries with ethnic conflicts to use the Chinese experience to solve problems between different ethnic groups, as 56 nationalities live in harmony in China.
  3. Support China to realize its “New Silk Road Economic Belt” program because it can help countries from the Far East to the Middle East and Europe develop their economies and become more secure. 4. Support Chinese universities in teaching Chinese worldwide, which will prepare Chinese language specialists to serve as a language bridge between Chinese peacekeepers and locals.

Recommendations to China

  1. As Western powers reduce the number of their troops engaged in peacekeeping, China can take the initiative and fill this vacuum with its well-trained forces. This step will help maintain stability in African and Middle Eastern countries in which China has economic interests.
  2. Send more military troops for peacekeeping operations. As a result, Chinese forces will gain experience and maintain tactical efficiency.
  3. Continue to train peacekeepers from third world countries and teach them Chinese. This step will help increase the skills of foreign peacekeepers and provide opportunities to establish cooperation between Chinese and foreign peacekeepers.
  4. Offer creative and practical suggestions to the international community with the aim of beginning peacekeeping operations in Syria and Iraq. Help the above-mentioned countries defeat the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and help them to restore their territorial integrity. The unstable situation in Syria and Iraq is dangerous and can harm the security of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, which are primary energy sources for China.
  5. Actively participate in negotiations on peacebuilding in the South Caucasus because it is located in the center of important communication roads.

Mher D. Sahakyan- Ph.D. (International Relations), School of International Studies, Nanjing University. China, Director of the “‘China-Eurasia’ Council for Political and Strategic Research” Foundation, Armenia and the author of the article China’s Reforms to Improve its Peacekeeping Capabilities: Chinas Growing Role in UNPKO (2000-2013), (Moscow University Bulletin. Series 13. Oriental Studies, No. 1, 2016, pp. 56-67), from which this essay is adapted. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Mher D. Sahakyan

Advisory Board member

Mher D. Sahakyan- Ph.D. (International Relations), School of International Studies, Nanjing University. China, Director of the “‘China-Eurasia’ Council for Political and Strategic Research” Foundation, Armenia

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