Chinese President Xi Jinping pledges 8,000 UN peacekeeping troops, US$1 billion to peace fund
Commitment will make Beijing one of the largest players in UN peacekeeping efforts
China will contribute 8,000 troops to a United Nations peacekeeping standby force, China’s President Xi Jinping told the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, a move that could make it one of the largest players in UN peacekeeping efforts.
Xi’s pledge comes as China attempts to show it is a responsible international player amid concern over its continuing military build up and territorial disputes with Asian neighbours.
China will also for the first time provide US$100 million in military assistance for African Union peacekeeping missions in the next five years.
Meanwhile, Xi said Beijing would commit US$1 billion to a 10-year joint China-UN peace and development fund.
Xi said at a later peacekeeping summit chaired by US President Barack Obama that part of the fund would be used for peacekeeping operations.
China would give “favorable consideration” to future UN requests for more Chinese engineering, transport and medical staff, Xi said, but added that exit strategies for such operations “need to be timely formulated and executed”.
Obama, who held tense summit talks with Xi last week in Washington, shook his hand vigorously as he left the podium on Monday.
The two presidents were among leaders from more than 50 countries who pledged some 40,000 troops and police, equipment or training for UN peacekeeping missions.
The US military told dozens of UN ambassadors and military advisers in New York in July that the international body needed rapid response forces, equipment and training.
David Shinn, an international affairs expert at George Washington University and a former US ambassador to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, said China’s announcement to set up a standby peacekeeping force was a significant increase from its current its roughly 3,079 3,000 troops, police and technical experts deployed to UN peacekeeping operations., but that should not be a concern for other countries.
“I don’t think other countries should be concerned by these announcements by China. UN peacekeeping operations have widespread international support. There is plenty of room for everyone,” Shinn told the South China Morning Post.
“I don’t believe China’s actions will change the strategies of other countries in Africa. For its part, China gains in international prestige by supporting African Union and UN peacekeeping operations. It is able to test its troops, police and equipment in different environments.”
Shinn noted that China has put forces in place to protect Chinese nationals and interests in foreign countries, such as South Sudan.
“This is especially true in Africa where more than 1 million Chinese nationals currently live,” he said.
In his General Assembly address, Xi sought to ease concerns over China’s military might, saying that China would maintain a peaceful development path.
“China will never seek hegemony, expansionism or a sphere of influence,” he said.
He also demanded more representation for developing nations on international bodies .
“The vote of China in the United Nations always belongs to developing nations,” he said.
Additional reporting by Reuters and Associated Press