On June 25, the Peacekeeping Center of China's Ministry of National Defense was founded in Huairou district, Beijing. At the opening ceremony, Chief of General Staff Chen Bingde urged Chinese peacekeeping personnel to follow President Hu Jintao's instruction of "faithfully carrying out the mission and safeguarding world peace". The Peacekeeping Center -- which is in step with China's systematic effort in joining the UN-led peacekeeping operations -- will become an important platform for training Chinese peacekeeping personnel and exchanging of peacekeeping experience.
Since joining the UN Peacekeeping Operation Special Committee in 1988, China has consistently supported the UN-led peacekeeping operations. Entering the 21st century, China's gradually expanding participation in such operations is viewed positively by the international community. In retrospect, China's enlargement of her participation in the UN peacekeeping operations has been a steady process.
First, China's participation in such operations is based on the requirements in maintaining international and regional security. The end of the Cold War did not bring an end to the regional conflicts worldwide, and hotspots kept coming to the fore one after another since the beginning of this century. And, in an effort to alleviate tension and solve regional conflicts, there are 20 UN-led peacekeeping operations currently involving total 91,712 personnel, and five of these operations have a strength of more than 10,000. In the past two years, the UN's expenditure on peacekeeping operations reached almost $7 billion. According to experts, the capacity of the United Nations in maintaining the peacekeeping operations has nearly peaked.
There are member nations that have delayed or refused to pay their share of the cost of peacekeeping operations. Acutely aware of the constraints this creates for the UN's finances, China increased, on a relatively large scale, her portion of the payment, and, at the same time, increased the number of personnel dispatched in peacekeeping operations. In 2007, China paid $270 million as UN membership fee and share of peacekeeping operations' cost, in fulfillment of her obligations for maintaining world peace and security.
Second, China has enlarged the participation on the basis of adequate preparations. Since the mid-1980s, China has sent several expert teams to visit the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), other UN peacekeeping missions and the peacekeeping personnel training bases in various countries. At the same time, China has, step by step, established a stable mechanism for the training and the selection of peacekeeping personnel according to the standards set by the UN.
And, as both the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Public Security established their offices of peacekeeping affairs, China's participation in the UN peacekeeping operations has been brought under standardized management. In 1997, China agreed in principle to join the peacekeeping standby arrangement system of UN. Later in 2002, China formally joined the Level 1 peacekeeping standby arrangement.
In tune with the growth of China's comprehensive national strength, the Chinese government took steps to give a push to the process of systematic management of peacekeeping affairs. Such efforts enhanced the country's capacity to enlarge her participation in the UN peacekeeping operations.
Third, China enlarged its participation to support the wholesome development of the UN peacekeeping operations. As a UN-led peacekeeping operation is an effective way towards multilateralism in maintaining world peace and security, China supports the UN's effort to improve its peacekeeping management system.
The Chinese government is emphatic that peacekeeping operations should abide by the tenets and principles of the UN Charter, observe the principles such as legal authorization, impartiality and neutrality, and non-use of force except in self-defense. It also stresses that the leading role of the Security Council must be strengthened, its resolutions observed, and peacekeeping operations carried out under the council's authorization and guidance. Peacekeeping operations should make timely situation assessments of the peacekeeping areas and draw up a relevant strategy, devoting resources to the most needed areas. This calls for enhanced cooperation between the UN departments concerned and between the UN and the special or regional organizations.
There is need to adopt comprehensive management of all efforts while emphasizing the need to eliminate the root causes of conflicts, strengthen supervision of peacekeeping, improve competency and professionalism of peacekeepers, and promote the effectiveness of the UN peacekeeping operations.
As a permanent member of the Security Council, China will continue to support the wholesome development of the UN peacekeeping operations.
The author is a senior research fellow of China Arms Control and Disarmment Association.
(China Daily 06/29/2009 page4)