Friday, November 24, 2006


China the Munificent

China Filling Void Left by West in U.N. Peacekeeping declares this article in today’s Washington Post and the tone of the article seems to suggest that China is stepping up while other nations are shirking their duty. Left unsaid (or unasked) is where has China been up to now? Post writer Colum Lync notes that “ China is now the 13th-largest contributor of U.N. peacekeepers, providing 1,648 troops, police and military observers to 10 nations..” and includes this helpful quote to explain what is going here;

Wang Guangya, China's U.N. ambassador, said that China is filling a vacuum left by the West. "The major powers are withdrawing from the peacekeeping role," he said. "That role is being played more by small countries. China felt it is the right time for us to fill this vacuum. We want to play our role."

Excuse me if I don't get all teary-eyed over such altruism. China is the most populated country in the world, has an economy estimated at perhaps the 6th largest and, oh yeah, has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. While 1,648 troops sounds nice, looking at some of the countries ahead of it – including Bangladesh (9,655), Ethiopia (2,568) and Nepal (3,522) (UN peacekeeping contributors) – kind of puts their sacrifice in perspective. (Yes, I know, the US is listed at only 303 but that number does not include, for example, US forces in Afghanistan – where UN forces are also – or in Korea, where our presence helps support a UN-backed cease fire.) A responsible China would be a welcome addition to the world at large; it ain't there yet.

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