Since re­sum­ing its le­gal seat at the UN 45 years ago, China has be­come a cen­tral pil­lar in the global or­ga­ni­za­tion

ChinAfrica - - Cover Story - By Ni Yan­shuo

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.

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