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China’s Military Diplomacy: Investigating PLA’s Participation in UN Peace Keeping Operations

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  • January 14, 2011
    Fellows' Seminar
    Open to all Members; others pl. contact Conference Cell
    1030 to 1300 hrs

    Chairperson: Prof. V P Dutt
    Discussants: Prof Madhu Bhalla and Prof Swaran Singh

    In sharp contrast to its reticence till the 1990s, the past few years have witnessed a notable increase in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) engagement with the international armies. At present, China has military contacts with more than 150 countries. It has set up military attaché offices in 112 countries; and 102 countries have opened military attaché offices in China. During the 11th Five-Year Plan, the PLA has dispatched, on average, more than 170 military delegations to foreign countries and hosted more than 200 military delegations per year. It is in this background, China’s peaceful military activism in the global arena has attracted considerable academic attention.

    Dr Prashant Kumar Singh, in his presentation, tried to explore the issue further. At the outset, he made it clear that the paper was neither meant to derive any sensation from the term “military diplomacy” nor did it intend to produce any sensational research. Instead, Dr Singh attempted to demystify and simplify the term “military diplomacy”. He attempted to pick up and discuss with the audience, one of the many functions performed by the PLA.

    Dr Singh tried to answer nine broad questions in the paper, including the rationale, objectives, and resources consulted, the meaning of military diplomacy and its relation with China’s foreign policy, instruments of China’s military diplomacy and the general trends in China’s participation in UN Peace Keeping (UNPK).

    Dr Singh said that China’s actual footprint in UNPK in terms of troop as well as financial contribution is widely considered miniscule. In countering the argument, he pointed out that China’s participation in UNPK is not an isolated and ignorable feature. It is very much moving in sync with the larger agenda set by the government and its foreign ministry and serving China’s national interests in different ways.

    It is also in the institutional interests of the PLA that it asks for stronger mandates in UNPK. In times to come, it may emerge as leader of the UN-commanded peacekeeping missions.

    Points of discussion:

    1. China’s position on human rights and humanitarian intervention is in contrast with the ethos of UNPK. How is China addressing the contradiction?
    2. How is PLA achieving China’s foreign policy goals through UNPK?
    3. China’s is a unique case where three segment; the party, PLA and the State itself are trying to run their own sets of foreign policy. In that regard, how is PLA competing with other two segments in promoting its own agenda?
    4. How is the world community, especially the US and India responding to PLAs UNPK operations?

    Report prepared by Rahul Mishra, Research Assistant, IDSA