Legio III Augusta, via Beijing
Ironically one of the first countries to engage the United Nations in open, undeclared combat (see= Korean War), China joined the UN in 1971– taking the seat held by the Republic of China (Taiwan). In 1981, it began chipping in funds to support peacekeeping, then in 1992 embarked on its first major peacekeeping operation, sending 50 military observers and 400 military engineers to the UN mission in Cambodia. By 2016, China became the second-largest financial contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget and has since become the largest contributor of the peacekeepers of the permanent members of the Security Council.
With some 2,520 uniformed peacekeepers wearing UN blue (of 81,832), China is only the 9th highest contributor by nation. However, their peacekeepers seem to be part of an Africa-centric policy, deploying almost exclusively to Mali, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Darfur. It shouldn’t be a big surprise as Bejing has been upping weapon sales to the continent– the country was the primary supplier to Zimbabwe for years– maintain military attaches in at least 14 African capitals and, in July 2017, set up its first overseas military base at Djibouti– which is expanding with a pier large enough to accommodate an aircraft carrier. Then there is the whole question of access to vital rare earth minerals on the continent.
A look at the Chinese side of the missions, as told by the totally unbiased SCMP.