Is the world going to notice the Chinese army a lot more?
Yes, according to two experts at Chatham House, the independent policy institute in London.
China, they say, is contributing more than ever before to UN peacekeeping. I was staggered to learn that China is the largest contributor of peacekeeping forces among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Indeed, it has also established an 8,000-strong stand-by rapid deployment force of peacekeeping troops. Additionally, China has been putting its money where its mouth is. In 2018 it supplied 10.3 per cent of the UN peacekeeping budget, up from 3.93 per cent in 2012. This has a two-fold benefit: China appears a responsible player internationally, and helps “promote stability in countries in which China has significant strategic and commercial interests, such as Senegal, South Sudan and Mali.”
Quite separately from UN peacekeeping, China is engaging in a more visible military posture abroad “to protect its commercial and strategic interests, particularly in Africa”. In 2017, China established its first foreign naval base in Djibouti. In 2018, it held military drills in several African countries. This means Beijing has to engage with questions of international law, such as on the use of force and on armed conflict.