China's Participation in UN Peacekeeping Operations

Date of Award

June 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Audie Klotz


China, Global Governance, UN Peacekeeping

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This study examines factors influencing China’s personnel contributions to UN Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKOs) during 1989-2017. It analyzes China’s participation and non-participation in 44 missions, paying particular attention to China’s different policy patterns between two periods (1989-2002 and 2003-2017) as China has dramatically increased its contributions since 2003. It examines UN resolutions, other states’ contribution records, sovereignty issues, and data on economic interests and security issues to reveal that while the constraining effect of sovereignty issues was constant for both periods in the cases of non-participation or late participation in ongoing missions, and China tended to avoid missions with high security risks for both periods as well, other factors’ influence was not the same across the two periods.

By examining 18 missions during 2003-2017, I argue that the consideration of economic interests was a good predictor for China’s behavior during this period, however, contrary to popular speculations, it was more about the importance of host states as export markets rather than as the origins of resource-related materials. On the other hand, the analysis of 28 missions from the earlier period shows that the consideration of economic interests did not play a big role in contrast to political considerations for 1989-2002. During this period, China tended to join missions in which most of the other permeant members of the UN Security Council (P5) also participated and did not join missions which none of the other P5 took part in, unlike the later period with no such trend. The project also reveals that these differences in the significance of certain factors for different periods reflected China’s foreign policy priorities at each time period. China was more concerned about the relationship with major powers and international financial institutions’ assistance for its rapid economic development during the earlier period especially after the Tiananmen Square crackdown whereas the importance of exports and its regional trade relationships with those regions which often hosted UNPKOs became more important for the later period.


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