By Li Yun and Zhang Mimi
BEIJING, Sept. 21 -- The whitepaper titled “China's Armed Forces: 30 Years of UN Peacekeeping Operations” was released on September 18, 2020. Senior Colonel Cai Hui, an associate professor with the School of International Relations of the National University of Defense Technology and a senior instructor with the Center for Peacekeeping Affairs under the Ministry of National Defense (MND), said in an interview that the Chinese military has made a series of historic breakthroughs in participating in UN peacekeeping operations in the new era. Especially in the past five years, the Chinese military has mainly demonstrated three new characteristics in its peacekeeping operations.
First, the size and type of peacekeepers continue to expand. The Chinese military have dispatched six batches of peacekeeping infantry battalions to South Sudan in performing armed patrols, security guards, and civilian protection tasks since 2015. Prof. Cai said that since 2017, three batches of peacekeeping helicopter units had been sent in succession to Darfur, Sudan, to perform tasks such as troop delivery, operational support, search and rescue evacuation, and logistics supplies. The troops have expanded from a single engineering unit to the current professional forces consisting of engineering, medical, security, infantry, helicopter, and other arms. Their mission area has expanded from one to five mission areas.
Second, the responsibilities and influence of peacekeepers continue to increase. As the Chinese military has continuously enriched its practical experience in participating in UN peacekeeping operations, more and more Chinese military personnel have taken up growing responsibilities, assuming more intermediate and high-level positions in UN peacekeeping operations and participating in the decision-making, organization and guidance of peacekeeping operations. Since 2015, three major generals and five colonel officers of the Chinese military have held senior positions in the UN headquarters and peacekeeping missions, and relevant key roles have been served for 27 times.
Third, the function and tasks are more diverse. With the adjustment of the international situation and the change in the nature of armed conflicts, the mission of UN peacekeeping operations has shifted from traditional isolating conflicts, monitoring ceasefires to diversified tasks including protecting civilians, preventing illegal border crossings, disarming and demobilizing, restoring the rule of law and order, supporting elections, and assisting in building national governance.
Prof. Cai pointed out that the Chinese military actively adapts to the needs of UN peacekeeping operations, and carries out various tasks such as security guards, military-police-civilian cooperation, humanitarian relief, support for reconstruction, etc., striving to provide people in conflict areas with public safety products and spread friendship and hope.