China talks up its peacekeeping role in Africa


As China this year marks three decades of participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations, it says it is a strong force for safeguarding African peace.

“In the past three decades, as a founding member of the UN and a responsible member of the international community, and as a permanent member of the UN security council, China firmly supports the UN’s authority and stature, takes concrete actions to safeguard world peace and has actively participated in the UN PKOs (peacekeeping operations),” the Chinese Embassy in South Africa said.

It pointed out that China is the second largest contributor to both peacekeeping budgets and UN membership fees, and is the largest troop-contributing country (TCC) among the permanent members of the UN security council. “China honours its obligations, and therefore, it is incumbent on China as a major country to play an active part in the UNPKOs, it is also integral to China’s joint efforts with other countries to build a community with a shared future for mankind.”

In April 1990, China’s armed forces dispatched five military observers to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) as a participant in UN peacekeeping operations. Over the past 30 years, China’s armed forces have engaged in UNPKOs “with courage and determination” and “have become a key force in UN peacekeeping.”

Over the past 30 years, Chinese military peacekeepers have left their footprints in over 20 countries and regions including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Sudan, South Sudan, Mali and the Central African Republic. In the same period, China’s military has sent 2 064 military professionals to 25 missions and UN headquarters (UNHQ). Military professionals were working on missions and at UNHQ on patrols, observation, ceasefire supervision, liaison, negotiation, command and control, and operations planning.

Over the past 30 years, China’s armed forces have contributed more than 40 000 service members to 25 UN peacekeeping missions. Sixteen Chinese military peacekeepers have sacrificed their lives.

China actively participates in UNPKOs in Africa. Since Chinese participated in UN Operation in Mozambique in June 1993, China’s armed forces have contributed 111 engineer units totalling 25 768 troops to eight UN peacekeeping missions in the DRC, Sudan, Lebanon, Sudan’s Darfur, South Sudan, and Mali. These units have built and rehabilitated more than 17 000 kilometres of roads and 300 bridges, disposed of 14 000 landmines and unexploded ordnance, and performed a large number of engineering tasks including levelling ground, renovating airports, assembling prefabricated houses, and building defence works.

Twenty-seven transport units totalling 5 164 troops were dispatched to the UN peacekeeping missions in Liberia and Sudan. They transported over 1.2 million tons of materials and equipment over a total distance of more than 13 million kilometres. Eighty-five medical units of 4 259 troops were sent to six UN peacekeeping missions in the DRC, Sudan, South Sudan, and Mali. They have provided medical services to over 246 000 sick and wounded people.

Three helicopter units totalling 420 troops were sent to Sudan’s Darfur. They completed 1 951 flight hours, transported 10 410 passengers and over 480 tons of cargo in 1 602 sorties.

“China’s peacekeeping troops worked extensively and effectively with international humanitarian agencies, and have played an active role in resettling refugees, and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), distributing food, building refugee and IDP camps, and carrying out disaster relief tasks, and post-conflict reconstruction of host nations. They built important infrastructure, monitored elections, trained local doctors and nurses, and promoted environmental protection,” the Chinese Embassy said.

“In order to help the African countries improve their ability to maintain peace and stability, and provide African solutions to African issues, the PLA has honoured China’s commitment of gratis military aid to the value of $100 million to support the African standby force and the African capacity for immediate response to crisis. The first instalment of the aid including military equipment and supplies has been delivered to the African Union, and Chinese military experts have been sent to complete the hand-over and provide end-user training. The PLA has agreed with the AU on the arrangement of the next aid instalments.”

On 28 September 2015, President Xi Jinping addressed the leaders’ summit on peacekeeping at UN HQ, presenting proposals that the basic principles of peacekeeping should be strictly followed, the peacekeeping system needs to be improved, rapid response needs to be enhanced, and greater support and help should be given to Africa, and announced six measures that China would take to support UN peacekeeping.

The Chinese Embassy said important progress has been made over the past five years. In September 2017, China completed the registration of a UN peacekeeping standby force of 8 000 troops. This force has 28 units in ten categories–infantry, engineer, transport, medical, force protection, rapid response, helicopter, UAV, transport aircraft, and surface ship units. In October 2018, after a satisfactory Assessment and Advisory Visit (AAV) by a UNHQ team, 13 of these units were elevated to PCRS Level 2. In 2019 and 2020, six units were upgraded to PCRS Level 3 from Level 2. China has become the country with the largest number of standby peacekeeping troops of the most diversified profile.

“Upholding the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, China will continue to play its part as a permanent member of the UN security council, scale up support for and involvement in the UNPKOs, actively respond to the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, and support reasonable and necessary reforms in the UNPKOs. Improving the peacekeeping system and addressing both the symptoms and root causes of conflict, China will continue to support the UN efforts to refine security council mandates and improve peacekeeping effectiveness and work together to promote world peace,” the Chinese Embassy said.

“China and South Africa are good friends, good partners and good brothers, and more importantly, an important force for world peace and development. In this changing world, China is ready to join hands with South Africa and other peace-loving nations to champion and pursue multilateralism, and uphold the international system centred on the UN and the basic norms of international relations underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. China will exert itself in building a community with a shared future for mankind, and in making the world a better place,” the Chinese Embassy concluded.