December 18, 2019

A fundamental question facing global governance today is whether the UN peacekeeping regime can function with enough skilled troops to execute increasingly demanding and complicated mandates. The People’s Republic of China is informally thought of as a potential lead troop-contributing country. China typically deploys non-combat enabler troops, and recently began deploying combat troops, which may have to engage in live fire to defend the mandate. The risks and costs associated with dispatching combat troops challenge the benefits that China derives from supporting peacekeeping. I first establish China’s feedback mechanisms to facilitate simple and complex learning against China’s peacekeeping trajectory and motivations for participation. I then address the implications of China’s combat troop deployment, focusing on the UN Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in Mali and the UN Mission in South Sudan. The article draws insights from interviews with Chinese foreign policy elites and UN officials, and participant observation at the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

Providing for Global Security

Implications of China’s Combat Troop Deployment to UN Peacekeeping

In: Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations

Author: Courtney J. Fung

Online Publication Date: 10 Dec 2019

Volume/Issue: Volume 25: Issue 4

Article Type: Research Article

Page Count: 509–534


Keywords: peacekeeping; deployment; combat troops; UNMISS; MINUSMA; China; learning



Dr. Courtney J. Fung is an assistant professor of International Relations and an associate-in-research at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University. Her research focuses on how rising powers, like China and India, address the norms and provisions for a global security order.  She is particularly interested in how status affects these states as they address United Nations peacekeeping, intervention, and emerging norms, like the responsibility to protect.  Her 2019 Oxford University Press book explains China's varied response to intervention at the United Nations Security Council.  Her research was most recently supported by a Hong Kong Research Grants Council Government Research Fund grant (GRF) and a Hong Kong Research Grants Council Early Career Scheme (ECS) award.  Prior research funding included grants from the Konosuke Matsushita Memorial Foundation and the Scaife Foundation.