China’s Armed Forces: 30 Years of UN Peacekeeping Operations
The State Council Information Office of
the People’s Republic of China
I. Embarking on Missions for World Peace
II. A Key Force in UNPKOs
III. Implementation of Pledges Announced at the UN Summit
IV. Active Efforts for Greater International Cooperation
V. Contributing to Building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind
Annex I Timeline of Activities in UNPKOs
Annex II Participation in UN Peacekeeping Missions
Annex III Service Personnel Fatalities on UN Peacekeeping Missions
This year marks the 75th anniversary of victory in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. It is also the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (UN) and the 30th year since China’s armed forces first participated in UN peacekeeping operations (UNPKOs).
Peace is an ever-lasting aspiration of the Chinese people and the salient feature of China’s development. Since its founding, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been firmly committed to the path of peaceful development; it has made a significant contribution to world peace and development while realizing its own development. China has always resolutely safeguarded the UN-centered international system and the basic norms governing international relations underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and worked with countries around the world to uphold multilateralism, equity and justice.
China takes concrete actions to safeguard world peace and has actively participated in the UNPKOs. China is the second largest contributor to both peacekeeping assessment and UN membership fees, and the largest troop-contributing country (TCC) among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Over the past 30 years, China’s armed forces have resolutely delivered on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and sent over 40,000 peacekeepers to 25 UN peacekeeping missions. They have faithfully performed their duties and made a positive contribution to world peace and common development. They have stood fast as a disciplined force for peace and justice.
In the new era, China’s armed forces comprehensively implement the pledges announced by President Xi Jinping during the UN Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping. To contribute to building a community with a shared future for mankind, China’s armed forces have stepped up their support for and participation in the UNPKOs, bringing greater confidence and hope for peace and development to areas beset by conflict. As a critical element and key force in the UNPKOs, China’s armed forces in the new era have instilled more positive energy into world peace and development.
The world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. Despite mounting risks and challenges, peace and development remain the overriding theme of the times. No matter how the international landscape evolves, China will always strive to maintain world peace, promote global growth, and uphold international order. China’s armed forces will always be a force of justice for world peace and development.
The Chinese government is issuing this white paper to review the glorious journey of China’s armed forces in the UNPKOs over the past 30 years, to expound their ideas on safeguarding world peace in the new era, and to elaborate on the efforts they make.
I. Embarking on Missions for World Peace
UN Peacekeeping, as an instrument developed for peace, has made a significant contribution to world peace. In 1971, China recovered its legitimate seat in the UN and began to play a more active role in international affairs. After reform and opening up began in 1978, China gradually increased its involvement in UN peacekeeping affairs. In April 1990, China’s armed forces dispatched five military observers to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) and embarked on a new voyage as a participant in the UNPKOs. In the past three decades, China’s armed forces have engaged in the UNPKOs with courage and determination, always aspiring to fulfill their missions of meeting the responsibilities of a major country, safeguarding world peace, and contributing to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. China’s Blue Helmets have become a key force in UN peacekeeping.
China’s armed forces participate in the UNPKOs, because the pursuit of peace is in the genes of the Chinese nation. The Chinese nation values peace and harmony. Ideas such as “unity of man and nature” “harmony among all nations” “harmony without uniformity” and “kindness towards fellow human beings,” voice the mind of the Chinese people on the universe, international relations, society and ethics. The pursuit of peace, amity and harmony has long been the primary aspiration of our nation. The philosophy of upholding peace, harmony, cooperation and common development has been passed down from generation to generation in China. For millennia, peace has been in the veins and the DNA of the Chinese nation. It is a consistent goal of China’s armed forces.
China’s armed forces participate in the UNPKOs, because the Chinese people care about the wellbeing of humanity. The Chinese people always dream of living in a harmonious world where everyone belongs to one and the same family. They advocate that “a just cause should be pursued for the common good” and that one should put concern for the wellbeing of other people before personal interests. They hope for a better life not only for themselves, but also for other peoples across the world. Chinese service members join the UN efforts to bring hope and promote peace.
China’s armed forces participate in the UNPKOs, because serving the people is the fundamental purpose of the people’s armed forces. China’s armed forces come from the people, have their roots in the people, developed to serve the people, and fight for the people. They serve the people wholeheartedly at all times and under all circumstances, remain close to the people, and always put the people’s interests first. With love and humanity, Chinese peacekeeping troops make efforts to bring peace and happiness to people in mission areas.
China’s armed forces participate in the UNPKOs, because China honors its responsibilities as a major country. As a founding member of the UN and a responsible member of the international community, China honors its obligations, firmly supports the UN’s authority and stature, and actively participates in the UNPKOs. China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and therefore, it is incumbent on China as a major country to play an active part in the UNPKOs. World peace is indivisible and humanity shares a common destiny. To participate in the UNPKOs is integral to China’s joint efforts with other countries to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
China’s armed forces commit themselves to the following policy stances on UN peacekeeping:
Upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. China always abides by the primary principles of the UN such as sovereign equality of all members and settlement of international disputes by peaceful means. It respects the social systems and development paths independently chosen by other countries, and respects and accommodates the legitimate security concerns of all parties.
Following the basic principles of the UNPKOs. China always adheres to the basic principles of UN peacekeeping, including consent of the host nation, impartiality, and non-use of force except in self-defense and defense of the mandate. It respects the territorial integrity and political independence of sovereign states, always remains impartial, and strictly fulfills the mandate of the Security Council.
Championing the vision of global governance based on extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. China stays committed to building a world of lasting peace through dialogue and consultation, to combining its efforts with others to bring about a world of common security for all, and to creating a world of common prosperity through win-win cooperation, an open and inclusive world through exchanges and mutual learning, and a clean and beautiful world by pursuing green and low-carbon development.
Pursuing common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. China always respects and ensures the security of each and every country. It upholds security in both traditional and non-traditional fields, promotes the security of both individual countries and broader regions through dialogue and cooperation, and focuses on development and security so that security would be durable.
Staying committed to peaceful means in settling disputes. China advocates that disputes and differences between countries or within a country should be resolved through peaceful means. Countries should increase mutual trust, settle disputes and promote security through dialogue. Willful threat or use of force should be rejected.
Building stronger peacekeeping partnerships. China strives to bring about greater involvement of host nations, TCCs and fund contributing countries (FCCs) through UN peacekeeping reform. It leverages the role of regional and sub-regional organizations, and promotes closer partnerships in peacekeeping operations.
II. A Key Force in UNPKOs
Over the past 30 years, China’s armed forces have contributed a growing number of peacekeepers across an expanding range of deployments. From a few military observers at the outset of its involvement, China’s armed forces are now sending both formed units and military professionals. Chinese military peacekeepers serve on the UN missions in engineer, medical, transport, helicopter, force protection and infantry units, and as staff officers, military observers and seconded officers. Chinese military peacekeepers have left their footprints in over 20 countries and regions including Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia, Sudan, Lebanon, Cyprus, South Sudan, Mali and the Central African Republic. They have made a tremendous contribution to facilitating the peaceful settlement of disputes, safeguarding regional security and stability, and promoting economic and social development in host nations.
1. Ceasefire Supervision
Ceasefires are supervised to ensure that conflicting parties abide by their agreements. It was the earliest function of UN peacekeeping, and the first task undertaken by Chinese military peacekeepers. Since 1990, in addition to military observers, more military professionals have been involved in UN peacekeeping as staff officers and seconded officers. In the past three decades, China’s armed forces have sent 2,064 military professionals to 25 missions and UN headquarters (UNHQ). Thirteen of them have been appointed to key positions as force commander, deputy force commander, sector commander, and deputy sector commander. In August 2020, 84 military professionals were working on missions and at UNHQ on patrols, observation, ceasefire supervision, liaison, negotiation, command and control, and operations planning.
Military observers are deployed in conflicts to gather information for decision making. Their lives are often threatened by armed conflicts. On July 25, 2006, during the Israel-Lebanon conflict, Du Zhaoyu, a young Chinese military observer deployed in south Lebanon, bravely remained at his post, fulfilled his duty, and made the ultimate sacrifice for peace. He was posthumously awarded First Class Merit by the Chinese military and the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal by the UN.
2. Stabilizing the Situation
Promptly stabilizing the situation paves the way for the peace process. This is a main task of UN peacekeeping missions, and an important area to which Chinese peacekeeping troops have expanded their functions in recent years. The security situation in some mission areas is challenging, marred by frequent conflicts, terrorist attacks and violent riots. Among all peacekeeping units, it is the infantry battalions that are mainly tasked with armed patrol, separating conflicting parties, riot control, cordoning, and search. They are the backbone for UN peacekeeping and the stabilizers of security.
In January 2015, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) dispatched an infantry battalion of 700 troops to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the first organic unit of its kind to operate overseas in a peacekeeping mission. Over the past five years, six rotations have been committed to UNMISS. The Chinese infantrymen worked day and night amid the rattle of gunfire and the rumble of explosions in the mission area. As of August 2020, these battalions had completed 51 long-range and 93 short-distance patrols, 314 armed escorts, and over 30,000 hours of patrols in weapons-free zones, making a significant contribution to stabilizing the local situation. In August 2018, when a large riot erupted in Juba, capital of South Sudan, the Chinese infantry battalion acted immediately on orders and quelled the violence decisively and promptly.
3. Protecting Civilians
The Protection of Civilians (POC) is an important part of the UNPKOs. It is a duty that Chinese military peacekeepers resolutely undertake. The Chinese people suffered immensely from the scourge of war in modern times, and Chinese service members know only too well the value of peace and life. In war-torn mission areas, Chinese military peacekeepers maintain peace with their sweat, youth and lives.
In July 2016, an armed conflict broke out in Juba between government and opposition forces. Heavy weapons including tanks, large-caliber artillery, and armed helicopters were employed by both sides in fierce exchange of fire, putting a large number of civilians in severe danger. The Chinese infantry battalion, together with peacekeepers from other countries, was responsible for protecting civilians in downtown Juba and over a hundred surrounding villages. Facing a raging storm of gunfire and artillery bombardment, the Chinese infantrymen risked their lives to build a defense for life and prevented the militants from approaching the POC camp, and ensured the safety of over 9,000 civilians. Corporal Li Lei and Sergeant Yang Shupeng sacrificed their lives in the action. They lived up to the solemn pledge and sacred obligation of protecting lives and safeguarding peace with bravery and sacrifice. They were posthumously conferred First Class Merit by the Chinese military and the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal by the UN.
4. Providing Force Protection
Force protection is vital to securing the personnel and assets of UN peacekeeping missions. As an important contributor to the UNPKOs, China’s armed forces have been active in sending in troops to the UN missions to provide reliable force protection.
In December 2013, China’s armed forces dispatched a force protection unit of 170 troops to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to conduct guard duties and VIP protection at the Sector East Headquarters. This was the first time that China’s armed forces had dispatched troops to carry out force protection duties for the UNPKOs. Mali is among the most dangerous mission areas, afflicted by frequent suicide attacks, roadside bombs and other terrorist assaults. Over the past seven years, China’s armed forces have sent 1,440 troops for force protection in eight rotations to MINUSMA. The units have fulfilled their tasks effectively in the hazardous southern edge of the Sahara Desert, including over 3,900 armed patrols and armed escorts. They have earned themselves the reputation of “des troupes d’élite” of Sector East. On May 31, 2016, First Sergeant Shen Liangliang was killed trying to prevent a terrorist vehicle laden with explosives from crashing into the UN camp. He was posthumously conferred First Class Merit by the Chinese military and the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal by the UN. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, First Sergeant Shen Liangliang was conferred the national honorary title of People’s Hero.
On March 12, 2017, an intense conflict broke out in Yei, a border town in South Sudan. Seven UN civilian staff were caught in the crossfire and they were at severe risk of losing their lives. The Chinese infantry battalion immediately sent in 12 officers and soldiers to the rescue. Despite threats and dangers in their way, they outmaneuvered the militants, defeated three interception attempts, and successfully evacuated the trapped personnel. This timely and efficient operation was hailed and publicized as an exemplary model of rescue operations by UNMISS.
5. Deploying Enabling Capabilities
Force enablers such as engineer, transport, medical, and helicopter units play an irreplaceable role in the UNPKOs. Currently, the majority of Chinese peacekeeping troops perform such enabling tasks. On UN peacekeeping missions, Chinese military peacekeepers in the logistic support units have become the embodiment of China’s quality, speed and standards through their skills, professionalism and dedication.
In January 2020, some terrorists attacked the Tessalit Camp in the Sector North of MINUSMA and wounded more than 20 people. The Chinese medical unit in Sector East was rushed in by air and evacuated seven injured Chad peacekeepers to the Chinese medical camp. All the wounded were saved by prompt emergency treatment. In May 2020, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a tense security situation, the Chinese engineer unit built a bridge over the Sopo River in South Sudan to the highest quality standards. This bridge created a transport route between Wau and Raga, which was highly commended by the local government and residents.
In the past 30 years, China’s armed forces have contributed 111 engineer units totaling 25,768 troops to eight UN peacekeeping missions in Cambodia, the DRC, Liberia, Sudan, Lebanon, Sudan’s Darfur, South Sudan, and Mali. These units have built and rehabilitated more than 17,000 kilometers of roads and 300 bridges, disposed of 14,000 landmines and unexploded ordnance, and performed a large number of engineering tasks including leveling ground, renovating airports, assembling prefabricated houses, and building defense works. Twenty-seven transport units totaling 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 kilometers. Eighty-five medical units of 4,259 troops were sent to six UN peacekeeping missions in the DRC, Liberia, Sudan, Lebanon, South Sudan, and Mali. They have provided medical services to over 246,000 sick and wounded people. Three helicopter units totaling 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.
6. Sowing the Seeds of Hope
It is the common aspiration of all peoples throughout the world to live a better life. Far from home, Chinese military peacekeepers have made concrete efforts to bring peace and hope to war-afflicted peoples.
To actively facilitate humanitarian assistance. Over the past 30 years, 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. In April 2020, Uvira in eastern DRC was struck by a rare flood, which posed a severe threat to the lives and property of the locals. The Chinese engineer unit was assigned to disaster relief work at the most critical moment and rushed to help reinforce levees and restore damaged bridges. They have given the locals access to help and protection, and effectively ensured the safety and security of the affected population.
To participate extensively in post-conflict reconstruction. In a post-war country or region, when a peace agreement is reached, it is essential to restore livelihoods and social order in order to prevent the recurrence of conflict and achieve lasting peace and stability. Chinese peacekeeping troops have played an active role in post-conflict reconstruction of host nations. They built important infrastructure, monitored elections, trained local doctors and nurses, and promoted environmental protection. Their efforts have been acclaimed by the governments and peoples of host nations. Darfur lies on the edge of a desert with complex geology. It is one of the regions afflicted by the world’s most severe water shortages. From 2007 to 2013, Chinese military engineers drilled 14 wells in the most difficult circumstances, and effectively alleviated the problem of water scarcity for the locals.
To pass on love and care. Chinese military peacekeepers are not only guardians of peace but also messengers of friendship. The Chinese medical units in the DRC ran a twinning project in SOS Children’s Village Bukavu to offer help. Touched by the love and care from the units, children in the village called the female members their Chinese mothers. The consistent efforts of the Chinese units over the past 17 years have won widespread praise from the locals. In UNMISS, Chinese military peacekeepers provided agricultural techniques, farming tools and vegetable seeds to local people. They were invited by local middle schools to teach lessons on Chinese culture and language, which were very popular with the students.
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 for the noble cause of peace. As of August 2020, 2,521 Chinese military peacekeepers were serving on eight UN peacekeeping missions and at UNHQ. Chinese service women are playing an increasingly important role in peacekeeping. More than 1,000 female peacekeepers have worked in medical support, liaison, coordination, demining, explosive ordnance disposal, patrol, observation, gender equality promotion, protecting women and children, and other fields. They demonstrated the talent and professionalism of Chinese women on their UN missions. Chinese peacekeeping troops have been commended by the UN and the international community for their contribution. They have won honor for their country and military. On October 1st, 2019, Chinese military peacekeepers were reviewed for the first time by the country and the people in the parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the PRC.
III. Implementation of Pledges Announced at the UN Summit
On September 28, 2015, President Xi Jinping addressed the Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping at UNHQ and announced six measures that China would take to support UN peacekeeping. The Chinese government and armed forces have faithfully implemented the decisions and directions of President Xi Jinping, and taken concrete steps to honor their promises. Important progress has been made over the past five years. China’s armed forces have expanded the composition of their peacekeeping troops from single service to multiple military branches, enabling Chinese peacekeepers to perform diverse tasks in addition to enabling functions. The objectives of China’s peacekeeping efforts have extended beyond conflict prevention to building lasting peace. As a result, the peacekeeping capacity of China’s armed forces has been further strengthened.
1. A Peacekeeping Standby Force in Position
Rapid deployment of peacekeeping forces means greater opportunities to maintain peace and protect lives. China’s armed forces fully support the UN in developing the Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System (PCRS) and reinforcing UN rapid deployment capacity. 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, transport aircraft, UAV, 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. The Chinese standby force has been trained in strict compliance with the UN criteria and maintained the requisite degree of preparedness. It is now a well-trained, well-equipped and disciplined specialized force. China has become the country with the largest number of standby peacekeeping troops of the most diversified profile. In addition, in June 2016, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security set up a permanent peacekeeping police squad, the first of its kind in the world. The squad was pledged to the PCRS Rapid Deployment Level (RDL) in October 2019.
2. More Enabling Capabilities to the UNPKOs
Enabler troops including engineer, transport and medical units provide vital support to peacekeeping missions. They play an important part in promoting the effectiveness of UN missions, facilitating post-conflict reconstruction and improving lives in host nations. China traditionally deploys hard-to-source enabler troops. After the Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping in 2015, China responded actively to the UN call for more enabler assets including engineering and medical capabilities. Twenty-five rotations of engineer and medical units totaling 7,001 troops have been committed to missions in the DRC, South Sudan, Sudan’s Darfur, Mali and Lebanon. As of August 2020, six Chinese engineer units of 1,188 troops and four medical units of 199 troops were serving on UN missions. In the danger, turbulence and harsh conditions of mission areas, Chinese military peacekeepers have successfully performed all tasks entrusted by the UN including building paved roads and bridges, clearing mines and explosives, providing medical services, and supporting reconstruction in host nations. They have contributed to the local peace process and promoted the public image of UN peacekeepers.
3. Training Foreign Peacekeepers
China’s armed forces are willing to share their peacekeeping assets in a spirit of win-win. They have actively helped other TCCs improve training, build capability to respond to complex situation, and better perform in the UNPKOs. In the past five years, China has provided 20 training programs to over 1,500 peacekeepers from more than 60 countries, covering civilian protection and courses for senior mission officials, trainers, military professionals, and female officers. The Chinese military provided assistance in demining and trained more than 300 professionals from countries including Cambodia, Laos, Ethiopia, Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security also trained more than 1,000 foreign peacekeeping police officers.
4. Military Aid Gratis to the African Union (AU)
Africa has the greatest need for peacekeeping. 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 honored China’s commitment of gratis military aid to the value of USD100 million to support the African Standby Force and the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis. The first installment of the aid including military equipment and supplies has been delivered to the AU, 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 installments.
5. The First Peacekeeping Helicopter Unit in Operation
The PLA helicopter unit made its first flight on a peacekeeping mission in August 2017. China’s armed forces deployed their first peacekeeping helicopter unit of 140 troops to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). The unit was composed of four medium multi-purpose helicopters and tasked with force delivery, operational support, search and rescue, medical evacuation, and logistic supply. The unit adapted itself to the unknown complexities of overseas missions and fulfilled multiple high-risk tasks. It has become an essential airborne arm of UNAMID and a pillar of the UN peacekeeping operations in Darfur.
6. China-UN Peace and Development Fund in Support of the UNPKOs
To support the UN efforts for peace and advance multilateral cooperation, China has established a China-UN Peace and Development Fund. From 2016 to 2019, the fund financed 52 peace and security projects to a total value of USD33.62 million. Twenty-three of these projects were in support of the UNPKOs, which cost USD10.38 million. The goal of these projects is to strengthen coordination and planning of the UNPKOs, increase African peacekeeping capacity, provide protection for peacekeepers, and improve lives in Sudan’s Darfur, Mali and other mission areas.
IV. Active Efforts for Greater International Cooperation
World peace is the responsibility of all countries and peacekeeping calls for expanding multilateral cooperation. China’s armed forces have cooperated on peacekeeping with over 90 countries and 10 international and regional organizations. They have enhanced mutual understanding, shared experience, extended practical cooperation, strengthened bilateral and multilateral relations, and promoted peacekeeping capability through exchange of visits, expert discussions, joint exercises and training, and personnel training.
1. Strengthening Strategic Communication to Build Consensus on Peacekeeping
Better strategic communication with the UN leadership is an important means to move the UNPKOs forward. Since 2012, President Xi Jinping has had 11 meetings with UN Secretary-Generals, proposed Chinese ideas and Chinese solutions for world peace and development on multiple international occasions, and reiterated China’s support for the UNPKOs. In 2015, President Xi Jinping attended the Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping at UNHQ and presented 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. Accordingly, China’s armed forces are resolved to implement the consensus reached by the leaders. They have strengthened communication with relevant UN agencies, attended several sessions of the UN Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial and the UN Chiefs of Defense Conference, and actively promoted peacekeeping cooperation.
China’s armed forces are committed to strengthening bilateral and multilateral communication for better understanding and mutual trust. They have carried out active peacekeeping cooperation with the militaries of countries including Russia, Pakistan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, France, Germany, the UK, and the US. Through reciprocal visits, China’s armed forces and their foreign counterparts have strengthened communication on policies, made cooperation plans, and advanced friendly state-to-state and military-to-military relations. In May 2010, the first China-US consultation on the UNPKOs was held in Beijing. In April 2015, the defense ministers of China and Vietnam signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on peacekeeping cooperation between the two ministries in Beijing. That same year, China conducted the first BRICS consultation on the UNPKOs with Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa. In February 2017, the first China-UK dialogue on peacekeeping operations was held in the UK. In April 2018, military advisers of Russia, France, the UK and the US to the UN Military Staff Committee visited China and exchanged extensive views on the UNPKOs with the Chinese side. In May, the defense ministries of China and Pakistan signed a protocol on policy collaboration with regard to the UNPKOs. In October, the German defense minister visited the Training Base of the Peacekeeping Affairs Center of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense (MND), and a peacekeeping delegation from the Chinese MND visited the German Armed Forces United Nations Training Centre.
2. Contributing Chinese Wisdom and Sharing Experience
Sharing experience and learning from each other is an effective approach to improving the UNPKOs. China’s armed forces have actively conducted international exchanges on peacekeeping. The PLA sent delegations to visit the peacekeeping training facilities of countries including Argentina, Finland and Germany, and received more than 180 visits from other countries and international organizations including the UN and the AU. China has hosted over ten international events on peacekeeping, including the Sino-UK Seminar on Peacekeeping Operations, the International Seminar on Challenges of Peace Operations — Into the 21st Century, the China-ASEAN Seminar on Peacekeeping Operations, and the 2009 Beijing International Symposium on UN Peacekeeping Operations. Meanwhile, Chinese peacekeeping troops in Mali, Sudan, South Sudan, the DRC, Liberia, and Lebanon have exchanged experience with their counterparts from France, Senegal and Spain.
China’s armed forces have participated extensively in UN peacekeeping consultations and policy-making, and provided input on the UNPKOs. They have played a dynamic role in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations of the UN General Assembly and the TCC Contingent-Owned Equipment (COE) Working Group, invited officials from the UN High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations and the UN Security Council to China, and offered suggestions on reforming UN peacekeeping, raising its effectiveness, and ensuring the safety and security of peacekeepers. Expert meetings have been hosted by China to draft and review documents including the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions Military Engineer Unit Manual and the Military Peacekeeping-Intelligence Handbook, and Chinese experts have been sent to participate in updating the manuals of UN peacekeeping infantry, force protection, aviation, transport, medical support units and civil-military cooperation.
3. Extending Cooperation on Joint Exercises and Training to Build Capability
Joint exercises and training are important as a means of improving the UN’s peacekeeping capability and its talent pool. To learn from each other and improve skills, China’s armed forces have conducted various peacekeeping exercises and training with the UN, and with relevant countries and regional organizations. In June and July 2009, China and Mongolia held a joint exercise codenamed Peacekeeping Mission-2009 in Beijing. In addition, China’s armed forces have sent military personnel to participate in multilateral engagements including the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group Table-Top Exercise on Peacekeeping Operations in the Philippines in February 2014, the Khan Quest multinational peacekeeping exercises in Mongolia from 2015 to 2019, the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations and Humanitarian Mine Action field training exercises in India in March 2016 and in Indonesia in September 2019, peacekeeping table-top exercises in Thailand in May 2016 and May 2018, and the multinational computer-assisted command-post exercise Viking 18 in Brazil in April 2018.
China’s armed forces established a specialized peacekeeping training institution in June 2009. Since then, the PLA has run over 20 international training programs for UN peacekeepers, including the UN Military Observers Course, the UN Staff Officers Course, the UN Peacekeeping Training of Trainers Course for Francophone Countries, and the UN Senior National Planners Course. The PLA has also invited UN experts and senior instructors from other countries for pre-deployment training of Chinese peacekeeping troops and military professionals, and sent instructors to assist peacekeeping training in countries including Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Thailand, and Vietnam. More than 100 PLA officers have attended courses or observed exercises hosted by the UN or other TCCs.
V. Contributing to Building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind
The world is going through profound changes unseen in a century, and the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating such changes. Uncertainties and destabilizing factors in the international security situation are on the rise, and there are diverse threats to world peace. The UNPKOs are faced with multiple challenges, including increasing constraints, heavier tasks, and a more complex security environment. China will continue to play its part as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, firmly support and participate in the UNPKOs, actively respond to the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, and support reasonable and necessary reforms in the UNPKOs. China will contribute its fair share to building an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.
1. Upholding the Vision of a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind and Working Together to Promote World Peace
In today’s world, people in conflict-ridden areas are still suffering. They have a deep yearning for peace, higher hopes of the UN, and greater expectations of peacekeeping operations. Countries should treat each other with respect and equality. Disputes and problems should be settled through dialogue and consultation with the maximum sincerity and patience. No country should willfully resort to threat or use of force, or undermine world peace and the national interests of sovereign states. Instead, countries should commit themselves to raising the awareness that people across the world are members of a community of shared destiny. They should uphold humanitarianism, and increase support for and participation in the UNPKOs. China will continue to fulfill its responsibilities as a major country, scale up support for and involvement in the UNPKOs, and join forces with other countries to promote a sound and reasonable UN peacekeeping reform. China’s armed forces will endeavor to play a stronger role in the UNPKOs, comprehensively improve peacekeeping capability, faithfully fulfill their responsibilities, and contribute more to world peace.
2. Improving the Peacekeeping System and Addressing Both the Symptoms and Root Causes of Conflict
Only by giving equal attention to development and security and by addressing both the symptoms and root causes of conflict can sustainable peace be assured. Peacekeeping operations should be aligned with preventive diplomacy and other peace-related endeavors, and at the same time coordinated with political mediation, rule of law, national reconciliation, and improvement of living standards. China supports the UN in improving the peacekeeping system. With a focus on the primary tasks of the UNPKOs, a bigger share of limited resources should be allocated to development. China advocates that the rights of host-nation governments to independently choose social systems and development paths based on their national conditions, and local people’s rights to subsistence and development should be respected. Only then will host nations be able to focus on development and reconstruction so that peacekeeping gains and sustainable peace are secured. In the UNPKOs, China’s armed forces will, as always, contribute to a safe and stable environment for countries and regions in conflict. They will actively participate in medical support and health care, humanitarian assistance, environmental protection, improving lives, and social reconstruction, and provide more public services to enable the local people to enjoy the benefits of peaceful development.
3. Pursuing Extensive Consultation, Joint Contribution, and Mutual Complementarity and Building a New Type of Peacekeeping Partnership
Both TCCs and FCCs are important contributors to the UNPKOs. In peacekeeping, all countries should shoulder their respective responsibilities, follow the principles of consultation and collaboration, and leverage each other’s strengths for greater synergy. China supports the UN’s efforts to improve peacekeeping partnerships by strengthening coordination among the Security Council, the Secretariat, TCCs and host nations, and optimizing the UN’s coordination and collaboration with regional and sub-regional organizations. China’s armed forces will actively respond to the triangular cooperation initiated by the UN, and provide all possible support to other TCCs and regional and sub-regional organizations in terms of technology, equipment, personnel and funding.
4. Supporting the UN Efforts to Refine Security Council Mandates and Improve Peacekeeping Effectiveness
Security Council mandates are the basis and guidelines for UN peacekeeping missions, and a decisive factor in the legitimacy and effectiveness of the UNPKOs. When developing and renewing peacekeeping mandates, it is necessary to take into account various factors such as national conditions and the actual needs of host nations, and the capability of the TCCs. It is also important to reset the priorities and main lines of action at each phase in accordance with changing needs. China supports the establishment of an accountability mechanism for peacekeeping performance by the UN, the economic use of resources, and the employment of advanced technology with a view to improving the effectiveness of the UNPKOs and fulfilling the role they are expected to play. China is in favor of the UN measures in helping developing countries build peacekeeping and stabilization capability, improving troop and equipment capacities, and enabling peacekeeping forces to perform their duties. China’s armed forces will continue to train more excellent professionals for other countries.
5. Giving Full Play to the PCRS and Enhancing Rapid Response
The PCRS is an important guarantee for the UN’s rapid response to crises and conflicts. China supports the UN in strengthening the PCRS and will first select and deploy the units of the standby force that meet the UN standards. China’s armed forces will follow the PCRS criteria, continue to build the 8,000-troop peacekeeping standby force and maintain a high level of preparedness. Surface ships, rapid response units and other capabilities can be provided to the UNPKOs if needed.
6. Proactively Addressing Risks and Threats and Ensuring the Safety and Security of Peacekeepers
The operational environment of the UN missions is becoming more hostile and complicated. Only by ensuring the personal safety and security of peacekeepers can the mandates of UN Security Council be effectively fulfilled. With a view to fully protecting the safety, security and health of peacekeepers, China advocates a systematic approach to addressing the increasing traditional and non-traditional security threats, and stands for comprehensive UN solutions to strengthen information collection and sharing, reinforce early warning and risk awareness, upgrade security equipment and facilities, improve medical services, and enhance the prevention and control of infectious diseases.
Seventy-five years ago, people across the world won an epic victory against fascism, following a heroic struggle and huge sacrifice. A UN-centered international system was then established. Looking back through history, people are more keenly aware that peace has not come easily and to safeguard it requires great effort. At present, humanity is at a crossroads: Peace or war, cooperation or confrontation, progress or regress — these are significant choices that all countries need to make.
Peace needs to be fought for and safeguarded. China is firmly committed to the path of peaceful development, and hopes that other countries will also pursue peaceful development. Only when all countries do so, can common development, peaceful coexistence, and world peace be secured. As always, China’s armed forces will continue to provide unfailing support for the UNPKOs, fulfill their commitments to safeguarding peace, and bring greater confidence and hope to conflict-ridden areas and local people. China is ready to join hands with all peace-loving nations to champion and pursue multilateralism, and uphold the international system centered 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.
Annex I Timeline of Activities in UNPKOs
In April 1990, China’s armed forces dispatched five military observers to UNTSO and embarked on a new voyage as a participant in the UNPKOs.
In April 1992, China’s armed forces dispatched an engineer unit of 400 troops to UNTAC. This was the first formed military unit committed by China to the UNPKOs.
In September 2000, Chinese President Jiang Zemin addressed the UN Security Council summit and expanded on China’s stance on the functions of the Security Council, the UNPKOs and African issues.
In December 2001, the Peacekeeping Affairs Office of the MND of the PRC was established. The office took on the responsibility for coordinating and managing the peacekeeping affairs of China’s armed forces, and conducting international peacekeeping exchanges.
In February 2002, China officially joined the United Nations Standby Arrangement System (UNSAS) level 1 and specified one engineer battalion, one level-2 hospital and two transport companies as UN peacekeeping standby units. These were pledged to deploy to mission areas within 90 days of a request made by the UN.
In April 2003, China’s armed forces dispatched an engineer unit of 175 troops and a medical unit of 43 troops to MONUC.
In December 2003, China’s armed forces dispatched an engineer unit of 275 troops, a transport unit of 240 troops and a medical unit of 43 troops to UNMIL.
In April 2006, China’s armed forces dispatched an engineer unit of 182 troops to UNIFIL.
In May 2006, China’s armed forces dispatched an engineer unit of 275 troops, a transport unit of 100 troops and a medical unit of 60 troops to UNMIS.
In January 2007, China’s armed forces dispatched an additional medical unit of 60 troops to UNIFIL and expanded the engineer unit to 275 troops.
In February 2007, during his state visit to Liberia, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited China’s peacekeeping troops deployed on the UN mission there, and wrote words of encouragement: “Fulfill missions faithfully and safeguard world peace.”
In September 2007, Major General Zhao Jingmin was appointed as Force Commander of MINURSO. He was the first Chinese military officer to assume a senior command position in the UN peacekeeping forces.
In November 2007, China’s armed forces dispatched a multipurpose engineer unit of 315 troops to UNAMID. The unit was the first UN peacekeeping force to enter the mission area.
In June 2009, the Peacekeeping Center of the MND of the PRC was established, which took over the responsibility for peacekeeping training, research and international cooperation for China’s armed forces.
From June to July 2009, China’s armed forces held a joint exercise codenamed Peacekeeping Mission-2009 with their Mongolian counterparts. This was China’s first joint peacekeeping exercise with a foreign force.
In September 2010, the Peacekeeping Affairs Office of the MND of the PRC and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNDPO) co-hosted the UN Senior Mission Leaders’ Course in Beijing, China — the first senior-level peacekeeping training program held by China’s armed forces.
In March 2011, UN Training of Trainers Course was co-hosted by the Peacekeeping Affairs Office of the MND of the PRC and the UNDPO for the first time.
In July 2011, Chinese engineer and medical units committed to UNMIS were transferred to the newly-established UNMISS. The transport unit completed its tasks and returned home.
In June 2013, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid a visit to China, during which he visited the Peacekeeping Center of the MND of the PRC.
In December 2013, China’s armed forces dispatched an engineer unit of 155 troops, a force protection unit of 170 troops and a medical unit of 70 troops to MINUSMA.
In October 2014, the Peacekeeping Affairs Office of the MND of the PRC hosted the International Forum for the Challenges of Peace Operations 2014 in collaboration with the China Institute for International Strategic Studies and Folke Bernadotte Academy of Sweden. Eighty-six delegates from the UN and 19 countries participated in the event.
In January 2015, China’s armed forces dispatched the first infantry battalion of 700 troops to UNMISS.
In April 2015, the defense ministers of China and Vietnam signed an MOU on peacekeeping cooperation.
In May 2015, China’s armed forces dispatched an additional construction engineer unit of 200 troops to UNIFIL.
In June 2015, China’s armed forces sent troops to participate for the first time in the Khan Quest multinational peacekeeping exercise in Mongolia.
In June 2015, the UN Peacekeeping Operations Protection of Civilians Course was co-hosted by the Peacekeeping Affairs Office of the MND of the PRC and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).
In September 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping at UNHQ and put forth four propositions and six measures that China would take to support and improve the UNPKOs.
In November 2015, China’s armed forces held a photo exhibition entitled “In Course of Peace — Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of China’s Armed Forces in UN Peacekeeping Operations” at UNHQ.
In July 2016, during his visit to China, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the first peacekeeping helicopter unit to be dispatched to Sudan’s Darfur by China’s armed forces.
In January 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech entitled “Work Together to Build a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind” and provided a profound, comprehensive and systematic analysis of the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind at the UN Office at Geneva.
In June 2017, China’s armed forces dispatched the first helicopter unit of 140 troops to UNAMID.
In September 2017, the 8,000-strong Chinese peacekeeping standby force completed its PCRS registration.
In December 2017, as deputy chair of the expert working group, China hosted the drafting of UN Military Peacekeeping-Intelligence Handbook.
In May 2018, China and Pakistan signed a protocol on policy collaboration with regard to the UNPKOs in Islamabad.
In June 2018, the Peacekeeping Affairs Office was restructured into the Peacekeeping Affairs Center of the MND of the PRC, and the Peacekeeping Center into the Training Base of the Peacekeeping Affairs Center of the MND of the PRC.
In September 2018, representatives of China’s peacekeeping troops attended the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
In October 2018, 13 units of the Chinese peacekeeping standby force passed the UN assessment and were elevated to PCRS Level 2.
In December 2018, as deputy chair of the expert working group, China hosted the updating of the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions Military Engineer Unit Manual.
In 2019 and 2020, six units of the Chinese peacekeeping standby force passed the UN assessment and were elevated from PCRS Level 2 to Level 3.
In October 2019, a grand celebration was held in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC. The Chinese military peacekeepers were reviewed by the country and the people for the first time in a National Day military parade.
Annex II Participation in UN Peacekeeping Missions
Annex III Service Personnel Fatalities on UN Peacekeeping Missions
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