“This is Chinese escort task force. Please contact me on channel 16 if you need any assistance.”
Merchant ships plying the Gulf of Aden are now no stranger to this radio message, which is broadcast daily both in Chinese and in English over this busy and vital stretch of water off the Somali coast.
China has been an active participant in the counter-piracy patrols there since 2008, when its first navy escort flotilla joined the international policing mission. Now with the 12th deployment there, Chinese fleets have escorted more than 4,700 Chinese and foreign vessels through what is nicknamed Pirate Alley.
When thanking the Chinese fleet for its protection and assistance for a Philippine ship off the Somali coast in mid-2009, then Philippine Vice President Noli de Castro said that China’s escort mission in the Gulf of Aden was a true reflection of its demeanor as a responsible power.
Meanwhile, China has so far dispatched some 21,000 peacekeepers to 30 UN blue-helmet missions, the most among the five UN Security Council permanent members.
They are deployed in the most adverse circumstances, such as scorching deserts and hazardous rainforests, and they are engaged in the most dangerous tasks like mine-sweeping and bomb-defusing.
Chinese peacekeepers were important to international peacekeeping missions both in quantity and quality, Brig. Gen. Jean Baillaud, chief of staff of the Office of Military Affairs at the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, said in July.
“They show very strong commitment and also very strong discipline,” he said, adding Chinese peacekeepers were also regarded by the local population as “an asset” because they built roads, treated the sick and provided other types of practical assistance for local communities.
On the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, China, as the host of the Six-Party Talks, has functioned as more than just a coordinator. Linda Jacobson, East Asia program director at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Australia, said China had played a responsible part both in facilitating talks and in solving emergencies, which was conducive to regional security.
Regarding the Iranian nuclear controversy, China always advocates and supports a peaceful approach, and opposes counterproductive embargoes and sanctions. Mohsen Saleh, a professor and Iran expert at the Lebanese University, said China’s stance accorded with the UN Charter and international law and was constructive and serious.
In its dealing with the profound changes that have remolded West Asia and North Africa, especially with the Syria crisis, China unswervingly champions the peaceful approach and insists that only the people of those countries have the right to determine their nations’ futures.
China’s consistent position has eventually prevailed over suspicion and calumniation. Syrian writer Fayad Ezzidine, an independent observer of the Syrian crisis, said China’s approach stood for international justice and China played a positive role in addressing the Syria conflict.
China’s commitment to world peace and common prosperity is not without reason. It is deeply rooted in the beliefs of the Chinese nation and its leaders, which were spelled out by President Hu in a historic speech at the UN summit commemorating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the world body.
“Throughout our long history, human communities have never been so closely interconnected in interests and destinies. Our common goals have put us all in the same boat, and the common challenges we face require that we get united. Let us join hands and work together to build a harmonious world with lasting peace and common prosperity,” he said.
Out of this conviction, China, as Hu proclaimed in his 2007 report to the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, has always adhered to the path of peaceful development, upholding the UN Charter and international norms, standing for fairness and justice and seeking no hegemony or expansion.
This is also reflected in the “China’s Peaceful Development” white paper, which was released in September 2011: “Taking the path of peaceful development is a strategic choice made by the Chinese government and people in keeping with the fine tradition of Chinese culture, the development trend of the times and the fundamental interests of China, and it is also a choice which China’s development calls for.”
The choice was in no way forced upon China by external factors, stressed Huang Renwei, vice president of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, adding it stemmed from a thorough examination of the Chinese and global history and an insightful recognition of the increasing interdependence of today’s world.
While addressing the World Peace forum held in July in Beijing, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping reiterated China’s new security concept, which is characterized by mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination, and urged the world to pursue security through development, cooperation and innovation.
History has demonstrated that China has become “an active participant in, constructor of and contributor to the international system,” said Xi.