China’s Evolving Role as a U.N. Peacekeeper in Mali

Jean-Pierre Cabestan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

China’s participation in the United Nation’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is only the second time in its history that the country has contributed combat troops to a UN peacekeeping mission.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has used its participation in MINUSMA to train its personnel to operate in a hostile environment, gain experience working with other UN contingents and in a French-speaking country, and test new military equipment.

The MINUSMA experience has also underscored for China the importance of improving interactions with local populations, strengthening cooperation with local militaries, and better communicating the value of China’s growing role in UN peacekeeping to Chinese citizens.

However, the PLA contingent in Mali has remained largely risk adverse, particularly since a May 2016 attack that killed one Chinese soldier and injured four others. Moreover, the leading role played by French counterterrorism forces has mostly limited the activities of Chinese combat troops to building infrastructure and providing medical care.

China’s participation in MINUSMA underscores Beijing’s ambition to become a key player in UN peacekeeping operations and African security, which is a reflection of its efforts to expand its diplomatic influence and soft power around the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalUnited States Institute of Peace. Special Report
Volume432
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sep 2018

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