Interpreting China’s Rise in a Decentered World Through the Lens of Peacekeeping and Antipiracy Missions

Abstract

The rise of China in international affairs has prompted a vibrant debate among scholars; however, there is no consensus over what kind of power China is. This article argues that China can be seen as the representative of a new breed of great powers emerging in a decentered world. It does so by looking at China’s participation in peacekeeping and antipiracy operations under the aegis of the United Nations. It is possible to see that since the early 1990s China’s strategy has shifted from primarily aiming at being acknowledged as a great power, to trying to exercise its growing international authority effectively to better serve its expanding interests. It did so by strengthening its involvement through the UN in international security affairs.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    More on the relationship between the use of force and international legitimacy can be found in Force and Legitimacy in World Politics edited by David Armstrong, Theo Farrell, and Bice Maiguaschca.

  2. 2.

    Elaboration of data from ITC Trade Map, http://www.trademap.org/Index.aspx.

  3. 3.

    Data from the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics (2015, 612–614).

  4. 4.

    Art (Spring 1980) defined swaggering as "category the deployment of military power for purposes other than defense, deterrence or compellence. Force is not aimed directly at dissuading another state from attacking, at repelling attacks, nor at compelling it to do something specific. The objectives for swaggering are more diffuse ill-defined and problematic than that. Swaggering almost always involves only the peaceful use of force and is expressed usually in one of two ways: displaying one's military might at military exercises and national demonstrations and buying or building the era's most prestigious weapons. The swagger use of force is the most egoistic: it aims to enhance the national pride of a people or to satisfy the personal ambitions of its ruler. A state or statesman swaggers in order to look and feel more powerful and important, to be taken seriously by others in the councils of international decision-making to enhance the nation's image in the eyes of others".

  5. 5.

    The following data are all from the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics (various years).

  6. 6.

    Between 2012 and 2017 China became the second largest financial supporter. While in 2012 China financed 3.93% of the budget, the share today is 10.25%. In 2017, China also donated USD 100 million to the African Union (AU) to support its peacekeeping operations. This donation is the biggest so far after two USD 1.2 million donations in 2016 and 2015, the construction of the AU headquarters in 2012, and other smaller contributions.

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Ghiselli, A. Interpreting China’s Rise in a Decentered World Through the Lens of Peacekeeping and Antipiracy Missions. Chin. Polit. Sci. Rev. 3, 252–269 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41111-018-0093-3

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Keywords

  • China
  • Great power
  • Non-traditional security
  • International society