The UK Guardianon Monday quoted observers who felt the biggest global story of the past year is China’s rapidly accelerating rise to power, while the United States withdraws from multilateral institutions and treaties:
In a sense China, through its resourcing of the UN, has earned a right to be heard. For a country wary of concepts such as the interventionist responsibility to protect, China has become the pillar of UN peacekeeping. From providing only 3% of total financial contributions in 2013, China now contributes 10.25% of the total UN peacekeeping budget. It has pledged to provide $1bn for peacekeeping over the next five years.
China has trained more than 8,000 People’s Liberation Army troops to serve as standby militia for UN peacekeeping operations. The US, by contrast, is cutting back, albeit from a higher spending base. The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Hayley, has said the US is just getting started on its cuts to UN contributions.
Not surprisingly, China is seeking commensurate status within the UN. Although it has provided more peacekeeping troops than the other four permanent members of the security council combined since 2012, as yet no Chinese national holds a senior post in any of the 15-plus UN peacekeeping missions.
The interesting thing about the Guardian piece is that everyone at the U.N. seems to understand China is far more “nationalist” than President Donald Trump and his advisers would ever think of becoming, and by now they should realize Beijing is transparently interested in using its globalist clout to become more opaque.
China is a heavy-handed, domineering presence on the world stage that makes no bones about using power to achieve its policy ends. It bought its way into the U.N.’s vaunted human rights apparatus with the goal of making sure human rights investigators keep their noses out of China and its client states:
Already, since returning to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in 2013 at the decision of President Xi Jinping, China has moved from discreet backmarker – the so-called policy of “hide and bide” – to a leading voice pressing for UN budgets on human rights work to be cut or NGO observer status and external funding to be questioned. It has even suggested the phrase “human rights defender” should be excised from the UN lexicon.
At the HRC’s March 2015 session, China prepared 35 formal interventions, compared to 26 the year earlier, covering issues such as Syria, Eritrea and Belarus. It tabled its first HRC resolution in June 2017, titled “The contribution of development to the enjoyment of all human rights”, and followed this up in March 2018 with another prolix resolution, opposed by the US, titled “Promoting mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of human rights through win-win cooperation”. China was furious at the “haughty” US opposition.
None of this speaks well of the United Nations or other globalist organizations, which end up looking like cheap dates, the same way environmentalist organizations are willing to discreetly look away from the billowing clouds of pollution over China’s industrial centers as long as China pays lip service to climate change.
Fred Kempe of CNBC detected a cloud of “unease” hanging over the United Nations as it grapples with a variety of obvious crises – Syria, Brexit, the vast migration into Europe and its many awkward ramifications – plus a more nebulous sense that China’s rise is a big problem for the postwar liberal order enshrined at the U.N.
Few of the deeply concerned countries seem willing to join the Trump administration in actually doing something to slow China’s roll or help the United States resume its position as the anchor of global stability.