Norm Entrepreneur or Interest Maximiser? China’s Participation in UN Peacekeeping Operations, 2001–2010


Social Work and Human Services

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In December 2010, over 2,000 Chinese military and police personnel participated in 10 different United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, making China the top contributor among the five permanent members of the Security Council, and 15th overall. Compared to the total of 120 personnel that contributed in January 2003, the current figure represents more than a 16-fold increase over an eight-year period — a remarkable growth by any standards. The change in China’s attitude is even more remarkable, considering its adamant objections to the concept of peacekeeping after joining the United Nations in 1971. Initially, China viewed all peacekeeping attempts as pretexts for the two superpowers, the United States and the former Soviet Union, to intervene in the domestic affairs of small countries. Many analysts believe this suspicion is deeply rooted in China’s memory of the 150 years of invasion and humiliation by Western colonial powers and more recently, by direct clashes with the UN forces during the Korean War in 1951.