China’s military: Beijing promises more troops for UN peacekeeping missions

21-Sep-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

China says it will increase the number of troops it provides for United Nations peacekeeping missions, as the People’s Liberation Army marks 30 years of involvement in such operations.

The PLA would “continue to build the 8,000-troop peacekeeping standby force and maintain a high level of preparedness,” according to a white paper released on Friday titled: “China’s Armed Forces: 30 Years of UN Peacekeeping Operations”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping promised in 2015 to create a standby force of 8,000 peacekeepers, of which about 2,500 are currently on active duty.

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China provides more peacekeeping troops to the global organisation than any other permanent member of the UN Security Council, and is also its second-largest contributor in financial terms.

The paper, released by the State Council Information Office, said the PLA would also provide ships, rapid response units and other capabilities, if required.

Since 1990, more than 40,000 PLA soldiers had taken part in dozens of UN peacekeeping missions in over 20 countries, including Cambodia, Liberia, Sudan, Lebanon, Cyprus, Mali and the Central African Republic, it said.

China’s armed forces have also cooperated on peacekeeping missions with more than 90 countries and 10 international and regional organisations, it said.

“They have made a tremendous contribution to facilitating the peaceful settlement of disputes, safeguarding regional security and stability, and promoting economic and social development in host nations,” it said.

The PLA’s first involvement with a UN peacekeeping mission was when it sent five military observers to the UN Truce Supervision Organisation in 1990. Of the 2,521 officers now serving on UN missions and at UNHQ, 13 hold key positions, including force commander, deputy force commander, sector commander and deputy sector commander.

The release of the white paper comes as China and its military are under intense scrutiny around the world, and as Beijing seeks to position itself as a defender of peace and multilateralism.

Richard Gowan, UN director at International Crisis Group, said in a recent article published by US research group Brookings that Beijing had many reasons for working with the UN.

“The simplest is good publicity: Chinese media and officials portray these deployments as proof of the country’s commitment to multilateralism,” he said.

“UN deployments also allow People’s Liberation Army personnel a chance to gain operational experience abroad … [and] may also give the PLA opportunities to gather intelligence on other UN units and the countries where they are deployed.

“Conversely, Chinese peacekeepers offer intelligence targets for other powers who might otherwise struggle to see the PLA up close,” he said.


Category: China

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