by Xinhua writer Wang Jiangang
UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday told a Security Council high-level meeting on UN peacekeeping that China has been a staunch supporter of UN peace operations.
Twenty-seven years have passed ever since China began its participation in the United Nations peacekeeping operations in 1990, when Beijing sent five military observers to the Middle East. Today, China has become the second-largest country to share UN peacekeeping costs and has some 2,500 peacekeepers serving in nine UN peacekeeping operations.
"As the second largest financial contributor, China's contribution to peacekeeping is extremely important," Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, told Xinhua.
"China is a very important troop contributor as well with about 2,500 peacekeepers deployed in a number of countries as in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Mali," said Lacroix, who is the UN chief commanding some 111,000 peacekeepers from more than 120 countries, serving in 15 peacekeeping operations.
UN peacekeeping is intended to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace.
The UN Charter gives the Security Council the power and responsibility to take collective action to maintain international peace and security.Every UN member state is legally obligated to pay their respective share for peacekeeping.
Peacekeeping expenses are based on a formula taking into account the economic wealth of member states among other things. Permanent Security Council members are required to pay a larger share, while all states are free to contribute additional funding, equipment, or other services to missions they choose.
In 2017, the UN agreed to reduce the peacekeeping budget by 600 million U.S. dollars after the United States initially proposed a larger cut of approximately 900 million dollars.
The budget might change with each passing year. China now contributes 10.29 percent, next to the 28.57 percent by the United States which has 74 peacekeepers. In the meanwhile, China contributes more troops to UN peacekeeping missions than any other permanent member of the Security Council.
The past years saw even more active Chinese participation in the UN peacekeeping operations, with tremendous increases in its troops.
In late 2013, China, for the first time, dispatched a security force of 170 soldiers to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.
China also sent support detachments, such as engineers, transportation and medical corps, to UN peacekeeping operations.
China dispatches "high-value, hard-to-source enabler troops" and has recently begun to provide combat troops, marking a significant change in its deployment profile, according to related reports.
"What is remarkable is that the contributions of China are very high- quality," said Lacroix, recalling his visit to Juba of South Sudan with his predecessor Herve Ladsous, where he saw himself China's contributions there.
"I was deeply impressed by the quality of the Chinese contingent, qualified people and quality equipment -- this is very important," he added.
Ladsous, UN under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations from 2011 to 2017, and Atul Khare, the current UN under-secretary-general for the United Nations Department of Field Support, truly appreciated Chinese peacekeepers for their "great professionalism, dedication and generosity."
They said the well-equipped Chinese peacekeeping troops are a reliable force in UN peacekeeping operations and they look forward to a greater role played by China in UN peacekeeping missions.
"China now has become over recent years a very important contributor," Ladsous told Xinhua. "Chinese units are very well-equipped and are well-trained."
"Chinese peacekeepers have never ever had any misconduct of discipline," Khare said against a backdrop of alleged sexual abuse committed in Africa by peacekeepers from other countries.
CONTRIBUTE EVEN MORE
The year 2015 was a landmark of China's rise as a global security provider. Not only did President Xi Jinping commit 8,000 troops to the UN peacekeeping standby force -- one fifth of the 40,000 total troops committed by 50 nations -- China also pledged 100 million dollars to the African Union standby force and 1 billion dollars to establish the UN Peace and Development Trust Fund.
The UN extremely appreciates "the fact that China is committed to the PCRS or the Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System," said Lacroix.
"We look forward that China will bring those contributions to a level of readiness that will enable us, if needed, to rapidly deploy Chinese units wherever they are needed," he said.
"This is a very much appreciated effort," said the UN peacekeeping chief official.
"I think that there is another area that China's role is and will be very important. It's the area of helping the other actual troop contributor countries to improve the level (of Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System)," Lacroix added.
REMEMBER THE FALLEN
On May 24, at a corner of the north lawn at the UN headquarters, peacekeepers and diplomats led by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres mourned in silence for fallen peacekeepers who lost their lives while serving under the UN flag.
"Today we remember not only our uniformed personnel but civilian peacekeepers who have fallen -- international civil servants, national staff members, and UN Volunteers," said Guterres at a wreath-laying ceremony held there.
Among the fallen peacekeepers, 13 are from China.
The world will never forget them, who were awarded the glorious Dag Hammarskjold Medal.
The Dag Hammarskjold Medal is a posthumous award given by the United Nations to military personnel, police, or civilians who lose their lives during a UN peacekeeping operation. The medal is named after Dag Hammarskjold, the second secretary-general of the United Nations, who died in a plane crash in what is now Zambia in 1961.
Chinese red, blue helmets, security services, engineering construction, mine removal and medical rescue ... Chinese peacekeepers, like their peers, have gone through the test of life and death.
On the world stage of peacekeeping, the Chinese peacekeepers have fully displayed their courage in operations at any place and any time.