President Xi Jinping's pledges at UN show that China can meet its global responsibilities
Claims that China is not doing enough to live up to its great-power status have been all but laid to rest with President Xi Jinping's pledges to the UN. Billions of dollars of aid will go to the least developed countries, thousands of peacekeepers allocated for a new standby force and military support put forward for the African Union. This is how a responsible nation responds in times of need. It is about ensuring that there is equality and justice.
In his first address to the UN General Assembly on Monday and earlier at the UN sustainable development summit, Xi made clear China's intention to work with other governments to alleviate global poverty. Generous pledges were made: US$2 billion for an investment fund to help poorer nations meet goals with the objective to give US$12 billion by 2030; debt relief for the least developed and smaller nations; a US$1 billion donation over a decade for a UN peace and development fund; 8,000 peacekeepers for the new standby force; and US$100 million in military support for the African Union for peacekeeping missions over the next five years. Making the world a better place for all is the stated aim.
China has long been one of the biggest contributors to international peacekeeping efforts; with a total of 3,079 troops and police deployed, it ranks ninth among 124 countries. It is playing a vital role in anti-piracy operations along shipping routes in the Indian Ocean. Aid and investment to the poorer parts of the world have since the 1950s been helping alleviate poverty. Yet there has been persistent criticism in some developed countries that the nation is not pulling its weight in tandem with its growing economic strength and suspicions are rife that Beijing's aim is to tear down the US-led international order, including institutions like the UN and World Bank.
US President Barack Obama gave that impression after meeting Xi in Washington, saying China was no longer a poor, developing country and had responsibilities and expectations to meet. Beijing's launch earlier this year of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and its "One Belt, One Road" initiative give an impression of a shift away from traditional aid and development vehicles. But, as Xi said in Seattle at the start of his US visit, China is among nations that want to see "reform and improvement of the system to keep up with the times". The strategy of win-win partnerships without political strings attached is tried and tested and augurs a positive way forward.