Stratfor published a useful chart depicting China's increased participation in peacekeeping operations. This is a semi-regular topic on this blog. Back in 2003, the PLA Daily, the newspaper of the Chinese Army, stated the intent to increase participation in peacekeeping operations to raise China's global profile. In other words, peacekeeping would be a tool of both public diplomacy and traditional diplomacy.
In 2005, China was the 15th largest contributor of forces, moving earlier this year to 12th, which included increasing its contribution to 1,000 in Lebanon in 2006 for the declared purpose of raising its profile in the Middle East and in Europe.
Not surprisingly, China prefers to send its peacekeepers to Africa over other destinations. This fits with Chinese stated public diplomacy strategy (and here for more specific example). However, as was the case in Haiti, China doesn't play exclusives and will go where it feels it can get a big bang for its disaster relief and humanitarian aid renminbi.
In addition to being seen, this has the added benefit of practicing for deployments away from their very-near abroad.
I'm sure we will see more Chinese peacekeepers. The UN maintains about 20 operations at any one time with a new rotation starting every 6 months.
The Top 5 "peacekeepers for hire" have little in the way of international interests and get paid about $1100 per man per month (and require on top of that transport, equipment, and support). These Top 5 collectively contribute nearly 50% of all UN forces, while the top 3 are 39% of the total.
If China ramps up its peacekeeping, will it have a ripple effect to these poor nations counting on the cash? Will that create new opportunities for the Chinese to provide aid, in the variety of forms they provide "aid"?
Image credit: Stratfor