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China’s Growing Role in Peacekeeping: Thoughts and Recommendations

Mher D. Sahakyan

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] I [/yt_dropcap]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.

PhD, Director “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, Foundation, Armenia follow @mhereast

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East Asia

Freedom, Sovereign Debt, Generational Accounting and other Myths

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“How to draw the line between the recent and still unsettled EU/EURO crisis and Asia’s success story? Well, it might be easier than it seems: Neither Europe nor Asia has any alternative. The difference is that Europe well knows there is no alternative – and therefore is multilateral. Asia thinks it has an alternative – and therefore is strikingly bilateral, while stubbornly residing enveloped in economic egoisms. No wonder that Europe is/will be able to manage its decline, while Asia is (still) unable to capitalize its successes. Asia clearly does not accept any more the lead of the post-industrial and post-Christian Europe, but is not ready for the post-West world.” – professor Anis H. Bajrektarevic diagnosed in his well-read ‘No Asian century’ policy paper. Sino-Indian rift is not new. It only takes new forms in Asia, which – in absence of a true multilateralism – is entrenched in confrontational competition and amplifying antagonisms.  The following lines are referencing one such a rift.

At the end of 2017, Brahma Chellaney, a professor with the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research, wrote an article titled “China’s Creditor Imperialism” in which he accused China of creating a “debt trap” from Argentina, to Namibia and Laos, mentioning its acquisition of, or investment in the construction of several port hubs, including Hambantota in Sri Lanka, Piraeus in Greece, Djibouti, and Mombasa in Kenya in recent years.

These countries are forced to avoid default by painfully choosing to let China control their resources and thus have forfeited their sovereignty, he wrote. The article described China as a “new imperial giant” with a velvet glove hiding iron fists with which it was pressing small countries. The Belt and Road Initiative, he concluded, is essentially an ambitious plan to realize “Chinese imperialism”. The article was later widely quoted by newspapers, websites and think tanks around the world.

When then United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Africa in March, he also said that although Chinese investment may help improve Africa’s infrastructure, it would lead to increased debt on the continent, without creating many jobs.

It is no accident that this idea of China’s creditor imperialism theory originates from India. New Delhi has openly opposed China’s Belt and Road Initiative, especially the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as it runs through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which India regards as an integral part of its territory. India is also worried that the construction of China’s Maritime Silk Road will challenge its dominance in South Asia and the Indian Ocean. Based on such a judgment, the Indian government has worked out its own regional cooperation initiatives, and taken moves, such as the declaration of cooperation with Vietnam in oil exploration in the South China Sea and its investment in the renovation of Chabahar port in Iran, as countermeasures against the Chinese initiative.

Since January, India, the United States, Japan and Australia have actively built a “quasi-alliance system” for a “free and open Indo-Pacific order” as an alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative. In April, a senior Indian official attending the fifth China-India Strategic Economic Dialogue reiterated the Indian government’s refusal to participate in the initiative.

The “creditor imperialism” fallacy is in essence a deliberate attempt by India and Western countries to denigrate the Belt and Road Initiative, which exhibits their envy of the initial fruits the initiative has produced. Such an argument stems from their own experiences of colonialism and imperialism. It is exactly the US-led Western countries that attached their political and strategic interests to the debt relationship with debtor countries and forced them to sign unequal treaties. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is proposed and implemented in the context of national equality, globalization and deepening international interdependence, and based on voluntary participation from relevant countries, which is totally different from the mandatory debt relationship of the West’s colonialism.

It is an important “Chinese experience” to use foreign debts to solve its transportation and energy bottlenecks that restrict its economic and social development at the time of its accelerated industrialization and urbanization. By making use of borrowed foreign debts, China once built thousands of large and medium-sized projects, greatly easing the transportation and energy “bottlenecks” that long restrained its social and economic development. Such an experience is of reference significance for other developing countries in their initial stage of industrialization and urbanization along the Belt and Road routes.

In the early stage of China’s reform and opening-up, US dollar-denominated foreign debt accounted for nearly 50 percent of China’s total foreign debts, and Japanese yen close to 30 percent. Why didn’t Western countries think the US and Japan were pushing their “creditor imperialism” on China?

Some foreign media have repeatedly mentioned that Sri Lanka is trapped in a “debt trap” due to its excessive money borrowing from China. But the fact is that there are multiple reasons for Sri Lanka’s heavy foreign debt and its debt predicament should not be attributed to China. For most of the years since 1985, foreign debt has remained above 70 percent of its GDP due to its continuous fiscal deficits caused by low tax revenues and massive welfare spending. As of 2017, Sri Lanka owed China $2.87 billion, accounting for only 10 percent of its total foreign debt, compared with $3.44 billion it owed to Japan, 12 percent of its total foreign debt. Japan has been Sri Lanka’s largest creditor since 2006, but why does no foreign media disseminate the idea of “Japan’s creditor imperialism”?

In response to the accusation that China is pursuing creditor imperialism made by India and some Western countries, even former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa wrote an article in July using data to refute it.

Most of the time, the overseas large-scale infrastructure construction projects related to the Belt and Road Initiative are the ones operated by the Chinese government and Chinese enterprises under the request of the governments of involved countries along the Belt and Road routes or the ones undertaken by Chinese enterprises through bidding.

It is expected that with the construction of large-scale infrastructure projects and industrial parks under the Chinese initiative, which will cause the host country’s self-development and debt repayment ability to constantly increase, the China’s creditor imperialism nonsense will collapse.

An early version of this text appeared in China Daily

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Arrogance of force and hostages in US-China trade war

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Even before the ink on the comments made by those who (just like the author of these lines) saw the recent meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires as a sign of a temporary truce in the trade war between the two countries had time to dry, something like a hostage-taking and the opening of a second front happened. The recent arrest in Canada under US pressure of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of China’s telecommunications giant Huawei, is unfolding into a full-blown international scandal with far-reaching consequences.

Meng Wanzhou faces extradition to the United States where she is suspected of violating US sanctions against Iran, namely by making payments to Tehran via the UK branch of the US bank HSBC. The question is, however, how come someone is trying to indict a Chinese citizen according to the norms of American law, and not even on US territory to boot?

China’s reaction was extremely tough with Deputy Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoning the Canadian and US ambassadors in Beijing and demanding the immediate release of the detainee, calling her detention “an extremely bad act.” First of all, because this is yet another arrogant attempt at extraterritorial use of American laws.

Other countries, above all Russia, have already experienced this arrogance more than once; suffice it to mention the cases of Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, or of the alleged “Russian hackers,” who, by hook or crook, were taken out to the United States to face US “justice”.

Enough is enough, as they say. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is usually careful in his choice of words, said that while Russia is not involved in the US-China trade war, it still regards Meng’s arrest as “another manifestation of the line that inspires a rejection among the overwhelming majority of normal countries, normal people, the line of extraterritorial application of their [US] national laws.”

“This is a very arrogant great-power policy that no one accepts, it already causes rejection even among the closest allies of the US,” Lavrov said. “It is necessary to put an end to it,” he added.

One couldn’t agree with this more. But first, I would like to know who really is behind this provocation, even though China’s reaction would have been much anticipated. The arrest of Meng Wanzhou sent US markets into a tailspin and scared investors, who now expect an escalation of the trade war between the United States and China.

The point here, of course, is Washington’s displeasure about Huawei’s activities, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that the US Justice Department has long been conducting a probe into the Chinese company’s alleged violation of US sanctions against Iran.

There is more to this whole story than just sanctions though. The US accuses Huawei (as it earlier did the Chinese ZTE) of the potential threats the company’s attempts to use tracking devices could pose to the security of America’s telecommunications networks. The United States has demanded that its closest allies (primarily Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, with whom it has set up a system for jointly collecting and using Five Eyes intelligence) exclude 5G Huawei products from their state procurement tenders.

I still believe, however, that the true reason for this is not so much security concerns as it is a desire to beat a competitor. Huawei has become a world-renowned leader in the development and application of 5G communications technology, which looks to the future (“Internet of Things”, “Smart Cities”, unmanned vehicles and much more.)

Since technology and equipment are supplied along with standards for their use, there is a behind-the-scenes struggle going on to phase out the 5G standard developed by Huawei from global markets.

As for the need “to put an end to this,” the big question is how. Formally, detainees are extradited to the United States in line with national legislation, but at Washington’s request (which often comes with boorish and humiliating pressure from the US authorities and is usually never mentioned in public).

Add to this the US Congress’ longstanding practice of changing, unilaterally and at its own discretion, already signed international treaties and agreements as they are being ratified – another example of “arrogance of power” as mentioned before.

The question could well be raised at the UN Security Council, but its discussion is most likely to be blocked by the US representative. However, there is also a moral side to the assessment of any political practice the work on international legal norms usually starts with.

If China and Russia, as well as other countries equally fed up with the “arrogance of power” submit a draft resolution “On the inadmissibility of attempts at extraterritorial use of national legislation by UN member states” to the UN General Assembly, it would most likely enjoy the overwhelming support by most of the countries of the UNGA, maybe save for just a dozen or so of the most diehard advocates of Washington’s policy…

First published in our partner International Affairs

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Will China Save the Planet? Book Review

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Barbara Finamore has been involved in environmental policy in China for decades.  Her new book, Will China Save the Planet?,is a succinct report (120 pg.) on the short, yet promising history of China’s actions to address climate change and pollution.

Chapter 1 is about the recent global leadership role that China has taken in the fight against climate change.  At first, the PRC was hesitant to commit to specific pollution-reduction benchmarks.  After experiencing increasingly devastating bouts of industrial smog in the 1990s however, China began to take its environmental commitments more seriously.  It has set out to become the de facto leader in combatting climate change through ambitious domestic action and sponsoring international conferences.  The Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement has only furthered China’s dominance.

Chapters 2-4 give in-depth analysis on China’s efforts to wean itself off of coal, develop its renewable energy capacity and become a global leader in electric vehicle production.  China has long used coal to fuel its unprecedented rate of industrialization.  In recent years, it has pledged to wean itself off of coal dependency by enforcing coal plant efficiency standards, enacting a cap-and-trade program, managing grid output, promoting local politicians based on their success in implementing green policies and supporting green energy developments.  China is now home to many of the world’s top manufacturers of solar panels, wind turbines and commercial & private electric vehicles.

There is much to applaud China for in its efforts.  Finamore writes that, “After growing by an average of 10% annually from 2002-2012, China’s coal consumption leveled off in 2013 & decreased in each of the following three years… Largely because of the dip in China’s coal consumption, global CO2 emissions growth was basically flat between 2014-2016.”  By moving away from coal, China has been able to, “Every hour… erects a new wind turbine & installs enough solar panels to cover a soccer field.” As of last year, “Chinese solar manufacturers accounted for about 68% of global solar cell production & more than 70% of the world’s production of solar panels.”

Chapter 5 focuses on China’s mission to export its green initiatives around the world, particularly through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).  The BRI is shaping up to be the largest international infrastructure plan in history, investing trillions of dollars in 65 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.  China thus has a golden chance to help much of the developing world to adopt clean energy goals and foster economic growth.  The Chinese government is encouraging its citizens to invest in renewable energy initiatives in the BRI countries by implementing a “green finance” system.  Through its pivotal role in the G20, China can also help to lead the developed world by spearheading reports and policies among the 20 member nations.

Barbara Finamore has written a highly readable and informative overview of China’s role in the global climate change battle.  She lists the Chinese government policies that have led the world’s largest nation to meet and exceed many of the green benchmarks that it set for itself.  It would have been helpful if Finamore had written more about China’s water instability and how that ties to the Tibetan occupation, as access to drinking water is one of the top environmental issues in the world today.  As a whole, Will China Save the Planet?is a good primer for environmental policy analysts and anyone else interested in studying feasible solutions to climate change, humanity’s greatest threat.

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