U.N.’s Ban Calls on China to Be Bigger Peacemaker

From Reuters:

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged China to match its growing economic and political clout with more funding and troops for peacekeeping operations to meet growing international crises.

China, a relative latecomer to global peacekeeping, has about 1,800 peacekeepers deployed abroad, making it the second largest contributor after France from among the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

“This is an area where China stands tall,” Ban said in a speech given to students at Beijing’s Foreign Affairs University.

“You are one of the U.N.’s leading member states, and you now rank among our top 10 contributors of both funds and peacekeeping forces. China will need to rise even higher in both rankings if we are to meet growing global challenges,” Ban said.

China last year agreed to send a 315-member engineering unit to Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur, where international experts say the conflict between insurgent groups, the Sudanese government and state-backed militias has killed 200,000 people and driven millions from their homes.

The Sudanese government has accepted a hybrid peacekeeping force of 26,000 African Union and United Nations troops, but only 9,000 are on the ground.

China, which sent a first deployment of 142 troops to Darfur last November, will send the remaining engineers in mid-July, Xinhua news agency said on Monday.

China has advised Sudan to cooperate with U.N. efforts to resolve the crisis but has faced widespread Western criticism as the African country’s biggest arms supplier and for not using its oil and investment stakes to press harder for an end to bloodshed in the arid Darfur region.

The U.N. chief, who will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao and other leaders on Wednesday, told Chinese journalists he hoped Beijing would be “more proactive” on other global issues ranging from food security to climate change, the China Daily said.

“I expect that China’s people and government will actively participate, commensurate with your economic development and political responsibility,” the paper quoted Ban as saying.

July 1, 2008 1:40 PM