Competing with China for African hearts and minds/2

Following up on an older post describing China's push for economic and political influence in Africa, today I took a look at China's role in United Nations peacekeeping missions, an aspect that was brought to my attention by the good folks at Limes, an Italian geopolitical review.  A bit of background: China has never been ...

Following up on an older post describing China's push for economic and political influence in Africa, today I took a look at China's role in United Nations peacekeeping missions, an aspect that was brought to my attention by the good folks at Limes, an Italian geopolitical review. 

Following up on an older post describing China's push for economic and political influence in Africa, today I took a look at China's role in United Nations peacekeeping missions, an aspect that was brought to my attention by the good folks at Limes, an Italian geopolitical review. 

A bit of background: China has never been particularly active in the United Nations, as demonstrated by its reluctance to veto Security Council resolutions, which it did only four times. Two of these vetoes were on the dispatch of peacekeeping missions to Guatemala and Macedonia in the 1990s. So it is surprising –and in my opinion telling of Chinese soft power ambitions in Africa— that China today is by far the largest contributor to peacekeeping missions of the 5 nations holding permanent Security Council seats. 

In March 2006, China had 1,137 peacekeepers deployed, of which 876 were troops, 189 were police personnel and 72 were military observers. Overall, that is the 14th biggest contribution out of 108 countries. By way of comparison, the US has 369, the UK 344, France 584 and Russia 207. While India sends a whopping 9,061, China's contributions are impressive, especially if compared with the past: in March 2001, it had 96. 

The table below indicates the number of Chinese peacekeepers by UN mission. Note that the data includes only 35 out of the 435-strong contingent China wants to sent to Sudan. In Africa as a whole, that would amount to a total of 1,196 peacekeepers. The US has 56.

Liberia  595
Congo
230
Haiti
127
Lebanon
85
Sudan
35
Western Sahara
19
Kosovo
18
Ivory Coast
7
Ethiopia and Erithrea
7
East Timor 
6
Burundi
3
Afghanistan
1
UN Truce Supervision Organization
6

 

Davide Berretta is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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