Last month, China released its first-ever white paper on its participation in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (PKOs) around the world. The lengthy document provided an overview of China’s 30-year history in contributing to PKOs and featured some new insights on Beijing’s ambitions to become an even larger player in the UN’s Department of Peace Operations.
As of August, China currently 2,531 soldiers under UN command, the world’s ninth largest contributor overall and largest among the five permanent members of the Security Council. Most of those blue helmeted soldiers are now working in Africa, largely in medical, engineering, logistics and various other support roles. However, in recent years, Chinese UN troops have moved to the frontlines in some active conflict zones including South Sudan, Mali and in anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia.
The new white paper and China’s more robust presence in UN post-conflict stabilization efforts in Africa and elsewhere reflects the heightened importance that Beijing attaches to peacekeeping within its broader foreign policy agenda, according to Hong Kong University Assistant Professor and Chatham House Associate Fellow Courtney Fung. She joins Eric & Cobus to discuss the new white paper and the future of Chinese UN peacekeeping efforts.
- Brill: Providing for Global Security – Implications of China’s Combat Troop Deployment to UN Peacekeeping by Courtney Fung
- South China Morning Post: China’s military: Beijing promises more troops for UN peacekeeping missions by Catherine Wong
- Xinhua: Full Text: China’s Armed Forces: 30 Years of UN Peacekeeping Operations by The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China
Dr. Courtney J. Fung is an assistant professor of International Relations and concurrently an associate-in-research at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University and an associate fellow in the Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House/The Royal Institute of International Affairs. Her research focuses on how rising powers, like China and India, address the norms and provisions for a global security order. She is particularly interested in how status affects these states as they address United Nations peacekeeping, intervention, and emerging norms, like the responsibility to protect.
Her 2019 Oxford University Press book explains China’s varied response to intervention at the United Nations Security Council. Her research was most recently supported by a Hong Kong Research Grants Council Government Research Fund grant (GRF) and a Hong Kong Research Grants Council Early Career Scheme (ECS) award.