China has 2,507 peacekeepers on active duty, says PLA Daily
China's decades-long, steadfast commitment to UN Peacekeeping fully displays its status as a leader in maintaining world peace without favor or bias and no hidden agenda, said Chinese observers on Tuesday, which marked the 70th anniversary of UN Peacekeeping missions.
"Under the mandate of the UN, China has been deploying its blue berets to the most turbulent spots around the world, shouldering an increasing share of the UN Peacekeeping budget, which shows it is fulfilling its responsibility as a world power," Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Chinese experts predict that the country's peacekeeping role will grow and will expand its overseas supply facilities at key ports around the globe.
The UN webpage commemorating the anniversary, titled "70 Years of Service & Sacrifice," notes that more than 1 million men and women have served under the United Nations flag in 71 peacekeeping operations over the past seven decades. More than 3,700 peacekeepers have lost their lives, including 129 who died last year, says the website.
The first UN Peacekeeping mission began on May 29, 1948, when the Security Council authorized the deployment of a small number of UN military observers to the Middle East to form the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) to monitor the armistice agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
China joined UN Peacekeeping operations in 1990, and Chinese troops have been deployed 24 times, involving more than 37,000 personnel. Thirteen Chinese peacekeepers sacrificed their lives during those missions, China's People's Liberation Army Daily (PLA) website 81.cn reported on Tuesday.
Currently, 2,507 UN Peacekeepers from China are on active duty in eight locations around the world including 2,419 soldiers and 88 experts and staff officers, and Chinese troops have also trained nearly 1,000 peacekeeping personnel from other countries, according to data provided by the PLA Daily report.
China has also registered an 8,000-strong standby force of UN Peacekeepers, according to the Ministry of National Defense(MOD) in September 2017.
China contributes about 10.25 percent of the UN Peacekeeping budget, making it the second largest contributor to UN Peacekeeping costs. It has dispatched more UN Peacekeepers than any other permanent members of the UN Security Council, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
Chinese peacekeepers' services and sacrifices have been repeatedly hailed by UN officials. "China's contributions are very important," Nick Birnback, spokesperson for UN Peacekeeping, told Xinhua recently, noting that "China's contribution has steadily grown over the years."
China's contribution to the UN Peacekeeping missions is not without detractors, who have impugned China's motives.
The Diplomat, a Washington DC-based magazine on international politics, suggested that China's emergence as a leading power in peacekeeping serves multiple agendas including fostering relations in Africa and elsewhere.
The magazine described China's UN Peacekeepers as a national image-building mechanism, designed to improve Beijing's reputation abroad and modernize its military.
Li Daguang, a professor at the National Defense University of the People's Liberation Army, called such reports "groundless slander."
"As the world's second largest economy, China is living up to its responsibility in those UN missions. China's recent ascendency includes responding to UN requests and serves no political or military agenda," Li said.
China's first foreign support base in Djibouti serves to enhance China's capability in escorting, peace-keeping and humanitarian aid missions in Africa and West Asia, said Song.
The area is among the most turbulent and is home to the world's most vulnerable people who need protecting, he noted.
Establishing foreign bases should not be seen as a military expansion, as they are designed to support China's UN Peacekeeping missions, Song said.
In addition to its Djibouti base, China will continue to set up peacekeeping support bases along key mission routes, said Li
The Gwadar port of Pakistan will serve as a resupply base for China's peacekeeping convoys, Li told the Global Times on Tuesday.