China announced last month that it will send a contingent to participate in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. In an email interview, Courtney Richardson, a research fellow at the International Security Program at Harvard University's Belfer Center and a doctoral student at Tufts University's Fletcher School, discussed China's peacekeeping deployments.
WPR: What is the recent history of China's involvement in international peacekeeping missions?
Courtney Richardson: From the time it assumed its seat at the United Nations Security Council in 1971 until the early 1980s, China was morally opposed to the international peacekeeping regime; it abstained on Security Council resolutions pertaining to peacekeeping missions, and contributed neither assets nor funds to those that were deployed. That changed in the early 1980s, when China started paying its peacekeeping dues and voting on peacekeeping-related resolutions. In 1992, China undertook its first significant deployment in support of the U.N. Transitional Authority in Cambodia. Since then it has been a steady personnel contributor. By the early 2000s, Chinese deployment numbers hovered in the low hundreds. Deployment rose to more than 1,000 soldiers in 2004, with China's deployment levels peaking at over 2,200 soldiers in 2008.