Since resuming its legal seat at the UN 45 years ago, China has become a central pillar in the global organization
THE United Nations (UN) is never far from the public eye, whether it is being praised for providing humanitarian aid in disaster-hit regions or criticized for not doing enough to resolve ongoing conflicts. More recently the organization made headlines with the process of passing its leadership baton when the current term of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon ends in January next year.
The appointment of Portugal’s former Prime Minister Antonio Guterres as the next UN secretary general is by all accounts a popular choice, but going forward backing of the entire assembly over his tenure in office is vital.
“He will need the firm support of the Security Council as well as the wider membership of the United Nations to help him fulfil his mandate in these challenging times,” said former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
It is in these very challenging times that China has been playing an increasingly important role in supporting the UN, especially in the 21st century.
“As the largest developing country, China represents the interests of a large number of developing and least developed countries,” said Peng Gang, Director of the Economic Research Center for Developing Countries at the Renmin University of China. “Also, as a country that actively participates in world economic development and contributes to the global governance and international rules, China shares its experience in this regard, which has been widely recognized by the international community, including the developed countries like those in Europe and America,” he said.
China is one of the founding members of the UN, however its seat was illegally occupied by the Taiwan authority until China resumed its legal seat in 1971.
In the 45 years that followed, China’s role has shifted from being marginal to more central, according to Shi Chenxia, Assistant Researcher at Shanghai Institute for International Studies.
This marginal role in the first two decades was because China’s low level of economic development restricted its ability to participate in international affairs under the UN framework. During this period, China saw the UN as a place to state its political appeals and fight against hegemony. “Thus, China only participated in part of the activities of the UN at that time,” said Shi.