BEIJING: Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China remains deeply committed to United Nations peacekeeping efforts, where more than 2,400 Chinese troops and police are serving — a contribution that underscores China's increasing prominence in the world body.
Speaking on Friday (Jun 25) at a symposium to mark the 50th anniversary of China’s entry into the UN, Wang Yi said China had made good on its pledge to establish a stand-by peacekeeping force of 8,000 troops and 300 police officers ready to be deployed for UN missions "at any time when needed safeguard peace".
Its influence enables China to rally wide support among developing nations, but the US and other Western democracies are increasingly wary about its role, particularly in squelching criticism of its human rights record and controlling the World Health Organization’s efforts to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chinese officials loyal to the ruling Communist Party serve in numerous influential roles in the UN, and China sends more peacekeepers into the field than any other permanent Security Council member and provides the second-largest amount of funding for such operations after the US.
Also, Chinese diplomats routinely cite the UN charter and what it calls the accepted norms of international relations in rejecting criticisms of its detention of Muslim minorities and crackdown on free speech democracy in Hong Kong.
The People's Republic of China was accepted into the world body on Jun 25, 1971, with the backing of developing nations and the Soviet bloc, replacing the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek that had fled to the island of Taiwan amid civil war in 1949.
Chiang's Republic of China, now better known simply as Taiwan, had been among the founders of the UN and a permanent member of the Security Council, but has since been excluded by it and related groups such as the World Health Organization.
Wang said China has participated in 29 former and ongoing peacekeeping operations, contributing more than 50,000 personnel, 24 of whom have died while in deployment.
China has the world's largest standing military, with more than 2 million members, and has 600,000 paramilitary police. The world's second-largest military budget after the US allows it to expand its forces and add advanced fighter jets and a third aircraft carrier now nearing completion.
China denies being an expansionist power, despite its moves to shore up its claims to the South China Sea by building artificial islands, recent border skirmishes with India and vows to conquer Taiwan and take control of East China Sea islands held by Japan.
"China has met its responsibilities for upholding world peace," Wang said. "Over the past 50 years, China has taken the side of fairness, upholding equality and opposing interference in other countries' internal affairs, power politics and hegemonism."
Wang also said China, as holder of the rotating Security Council presidency, had been active in helping end recent fighting between Israel and Gaza, holding five sessions to broker peace and calling on all parties to fully adhere to the cease-fire agreement.