In another surprising move, China's President Xi Jinping has announced China will contribute 8,000 troops to United Nation's (UN) peacekeeping efforts, as well as contribute $100 million in military assistance for African Union peacekeeping missions, and $1 billion to a joint UN-China peace and development fund.
Xi's announcement, which came as he addressed the United Nations General Assembly, could make China one of the biggest role players in the UN's peacekeeping efforts.
China watchers says Xi's UN pledge comes on the heels of other non-traditional Chinese Government moves over the last week, including a non-cyberspying agreement with the U.S, a promise to do more for human rights, especially women's equality, and a ban on ivory imports. They say these are obvious and very clear indications that China is attempting to demonstrate it is a responsible international player, as well as to deflect criticism of its territorial disputes with neighboring countries and a continuing military build up on its borders.
In an attempt to ease worries that China had ulterior motives in it’s UN peacekeeping plans, Xi said China would keep to a “peaceful development path”.
“China will never seek hegemony, expansionism or a sphere of influence,” he said.
The Chinese leader also said his country would give “favorable consideration” to other UN requests for more Chinese transport, medical and engineering staff, and threw down the gauntlet to other UN members to accept more developing nations on international bodies .
“The vote of China in the United Nations always belongs to developing nations,” he said.
George Washington University International affairs expert and former UN ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia, David Shinn, said he does not believe other countries should be worried about Xi's announcement.
“I don’t think other countries should be concerned by these announcements by China. UN peacekeeping operations have widespread international support. There is plenty of room for everyone,” said Shinn. “I don’t believe China’s actions will change the strategies of other countries in Africa. For its part, China gains in international prestige by supporting African Union and UN peacekeeping operations. It is able to test its troops, police and equipment in different environments.”
Shinn added that in the past, China has put military personnel in place to protect Chinese nationals and interests in foreign countries, citing South Sudan as an example.
“This is especially true in Africa where more than 1 million Chinese nationals currently live,” he said.