In surprise move, China withdraws riot police from Haiti

China has decided to withdraw its single unit of nearly 130 riot police serving in the U.N. mission in Haiti, sharply scaling back its peacekeeping role in the Western Hemisphere, U.N. and Chinese officials told Turtle Bay.

The move comes several weeks after a devastating Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti that killed more than 200,000 people in Haiti. More than 100 U.N. staff and peacekeepers, including eight Chinese police, were crushed to death in the 7.1 magnitude quake. The Chinese contingent will be replaced by a police unit from India, according to a senior U.N. official.

China first deployed riot police in Haiti in 2004 to quell unrest, train Haitian police and help reform the country’s judicial system. The decision to send police to Haiti was part of a broader push by China into U.N. peacekeeping and to bolster its own standing in a country that maintained diplomatic ties to Taiwan.

U.N. officials described the latest Chinese move as a routine rotation of its police unit out of the country, and said that it was planned before the Jan. 12 earthquake. They said that 16 Chinese police officers would remain in Haiti. The timing of the withdrawal comes just as the U.N. is seeking to recruit more than 1,500 police to fill the security gap caused by the recent earthquake in Haiti.

The move represents a rare retreat by China from U.N. peacekeeping. China’s role in U.N. peacekeeping operations has expanded dramatically during the last decade, and Beijing has provided more troops and peacekeepers than any other permanent member of the Security Council. Today, Beijing is the 14th largest troop contributor to peacekeeping mission with nearly 2,140 soldiers and police in 10 U.N. missions. There are Chinese police and troops in Sudan, Haiti, Liberia, and Lebanon. The U.N. force commander in Western Sahara is a Chinese national.

China has not always been a supporter of the U.N. blue helmets. Beijing’s misgivings about U.N. peacekeeping date to the 1950-1953 Korean War, when a U.N.-mandated force, led by the United States, marched to the Chinese border and clashed with troops there. The U.S. commander, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, even considered a nuclear strike to deter Mao Zedong’s Red Army.

When Communist China joined the United Nations in 1971, it refused to fund U.N. peacekeeping operations for a decade and remained wary of engaging in council discussions on the topic. “They were mostly silent for about 10 years,” Brian Urquhart, a retired U.N. official who helped create the world body’s peacekeeping efforts and who sought to persuade China to participate in peacekeeping in the 1980s, told me a few years ago. “They sat on every fence available.”

After the Cold War, Beijing decided to send small contingents of military engineers and observers to serve in U.N. missions in Cambodia and Kuwait. But it would be another decade before China began to expand significantly its participation in U.N. missions.

Below the jump, a rundown of Chinese participation in peacekeeping missions:

The U.N. Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO)

Chinese Force Commander is Maj. Gen Zhao Jingmin

11 U.N. monitors

The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)

16 individual police officers

126 officers in formed police unit (this unit to be withdrawn)

The U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC)

16 U.N. monitors

218 military troops

The U.N.-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)

14 individual police

2 U.N. monitors

565 military troops

The U.N. Mission in Sudan (UNMIS)

11 individual police officers

12 U.N. monitors

444 military troops

The U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon

344 military troops

The U.N. Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)

14 individual police officers

2 U.N. monitors

565 military troops

The U.N. Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT)

22 individual police offers

2 U.N. monitors

The U.N. Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI)

7 U.N. monitors

The U.N. Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO)

3 U.N. monitors


Published in: on junho 5, 2010 at 12:47 am  Deixe um comentário  

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