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Pakistan Takes Part in the First Multinational Peacekeeping Exercise Hosted by China

September 16, 2021

On Wednesday, China completed its first multinational peacekeeping exercise, demonstrating the breadth of its military might on a vast training ground surrounded by mountains. Troops from Pakistan, Thailand, and Mongolia joined China’s armed forces at the military base in Queshan county, central Henan province, for the 10-day exercise dubbed “Shared Destiny 2021.” China’s defence spending is the worlds second-largest after the US, and tensions between rival powers have risen dramatically as Beijing has poured trillions of Yuan into military modernization.

However, the country has repeatedly sought to allay concerns about its military intentions, portraying itself as a peaceful counterpoint to what it calls Washington’s “bullying, hegemonic behavior.” As Beijing sought to put its defence diplomacy on full display, senior Colonel Lu Jianxin told journalists invited to the base that the exercise “demonstrates China’s support for the multilateral system centered on the UN.” Soldiers in blue helmets took turns acting out various scenarios, such as civilians and refugees caught up in a brawl or armed militants attacking UN forces.

Dozens of armored vehicles, bulldozers, helicopters, and tanks emblazoned with the UN logo were deployed for the occasion. According to UN data, China was the eighth-largest contributor to peacekeeping troops as of the end of July, with 2,158 military personnel deployed around the world. Chinese forces are primarily stationed in South Sudan, Mali, Lebanon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

During a trip to Asia last month, US Vice President Kamala Harris described China’s disputes with its neighbors over the South China Sea as undermining “the rules-based order and endangering nation-state sovereignty.” China, as the world’s second-largest financial contributor, paid 15% of the total costs for UN peacekeeping operations in 2020. Since 1990, it has sent 50,000 troops to 25 peacekeeping missions around the world, built or repaired 17,000 kilometers of road and more than 300 bridges, and removed 18,000 mines, according to expert Lu.

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