395 Chinese peacekeepers sent to Mali
China will dispatch 395 peacekeepers in May to Mali for one year on a UN mission. Officially formed on Wednesday 1st May, the battalion will be China's sixth batch of peacekeepers to be deployed in Mali.
The 355-soldier contingent to be sent to Mali will take on tasks such as repairing roads, bridges and runways in mission areas, protecting the headquarters in war zones, and treating sick and wounded civilians (Picture source: UN)
It consists of a 170-person guard unit, 155 sappers and a medical unit of 70. They will take on tasks such as repairing roads, bridges and runways in mission areas, protecting the headquarters in war zones, and treating the sick and wounded. Among the 395 peacekeepers, a chemical defense brigade has been on the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan five times, and nearly 100 officers and soldiers have conducted peacekeeping missions more than twice.
As underlined by Logan Pauley in The Diplomat, China’s increased efforts coincide with recent U.S. cutbacks and contest Washington’s leadership on this key issue. By publicizing its increased presence, China is surpassing the United States as the leader in UN peacekeeping and crafting an image for itself within the international community as a “teacher of peace, civilization, and might”.
Over the past five years, China has significantly upped its financial and personnel contributions to UN peacekeeping initiatives to rebrand the Chinese position in the international balance of power.
China’s emergence as a leading power in peacekeeping serves not only to foster favorable relations in Africa and elsewhere, but also to strengthen the Chinese military. At this year’s session of the National People’s Congress, Xi Jinping called for the PLA to develop a “modern combat system with Chinese characteristics” in order to adapt to burgeoning threats against its national security and sovereignty. While China is opposed in principle to the use of force and military intervention, deploying peacekeeping troops affords the PLA an opportunity to improve its “military operations other than war” (MOOTW) and modernize its security forces.
Beijing sees Washington’s waning presence in UN peacekeeping as a wide-open door to take a bigger role on the multilateral stage. If China is able to assume a top UNPKO post and Chinese peacekeepers continue to be the most prolific forces in peacekeeping missions, China stands to have much greater influence in international peace and security.