By Elias Mhegera, Beijing – Global peace has become one of the trickiest agenda particularly on how to tackle emerging conflicts. The changing face of wars demands corresponding new knowledge.
This revelation came from the Director of the China and United Nations Keeping Centre Senior Colonel Zhou Zhe in the wake of exchanging information between his institute and a team of visiting African journalists.
He elaborates that traditionally professional soldiers were trained on how to avoid civilian causalities in conventional wars, today these are the most targeted by the new ‘war lords’ who are unprofessional, unethical and a good number of them are just paid up for gangsters.
“You cannot tell exactly whether terrorism is affiliated to any religion because people from all denominations are ransacked, ambushed, and killed, women and children, therefore this complicates matters even further,” he commented.
He narrated that previously his country had opted not to involve itself in any kind of military confrontations but circumstances necessitated that. “There is no way any civilised nation can isolate itself from the current global wars,” he affirmed.
He explained that these developments not only demands new knowledge on peace keeping but also ways of finding amicable solutions because military confrontations have failed to yield positive results in so many cases.
Giving the history of Chinese efforts in peacekeeping he elaborated that the first military contingent for UN peacekeeping was sent out in 1993 and since then 23 Chinese soldiers have lost their lives through their active participation.
It has participated in 24 peace keeping missions, sending over 33,000 soldiers for this purpose and in 2016 it has contributed USD $ 863 million for peace keeping this making it the biggest contributor of soldiers amongst the permanent members of the UN Security Council, but also the second largest contributor of funds just behind the US.
Currently there are 2496 Chinese soldiers amongst the peace keeping troops worldwide. It was just as recent as July this year when two Chinese soldiers were killed in South Sudan in their efforts to keep peace in the Africa’s youngest nation.
The main challenges with peace keepers are the fact that they are obliged not to use force except in the cases of self defense. However reality in the fields has shown that they are prone for ambushes and attacks from the unruly bandits, but also they are subjected to landmines left behind deliberately or accidently by soldiers escaping battlegrounds.
The Chinese soldiers have as well been facing challenges of where and when to intervene because this is not a purely military decision but it has political connotations as well. So far China has sent its missions in various parts of the African continent including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Mali, Somalia, and Chad.
Peace keepers have been proved to of vital importance in countries whose peace has not yet been fully guaranteed. As of March this year Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf called them to remain behind remembering the dark history in her country.
At least 250,000 people were killed between 1989 and 2003 in civil war, in which armed-to-the-teeth child soldiers ran rampant, and rape and looting were common.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report of 5 April 2016, World military expenditure totaled almost $1.7 trillion in 2015, an increase of one per cent in real terms from 2014.
According to this report, World military expenditure rose by one per cent in 2015. The first increase in military spending since 2011, the increase reflects continuing growth in Asia and Oceania, Central and Eastern Europe, and some Middle Eastern states.
The decline in spending in the West is also leveling off, at the same time, spending decreased in Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Thus, the global military expenditure picture is mixed.
But just recently there was a strong message to fellow journalists by Mr. Chen Ping Deputy Editor of the Global Times a Chinese local news paper with a wider international readership, when he spoke to a team of visiting African media practitioners at the Renmin University, calling for global peace.
“Persistent reporting by media practitioners will eventually halt massive wars going on now here and there because of various uncalled for justifications.” He remarked during a discussion.
Although the main focus of discussion was the North Korea nuclear issue but he challenged that this is just a reflection of what ‘flexing muscles’ could produce if negotiation processes are abandoned.
He condemned wars which have been fought recently under the guise of fighting terrorism or removing dictators from power as it happened in Libya, Iraq, and Egypt.
He elaborated that two issues have now turned Asia an area of a military and political stalemate. One is the North Korea nuclear threat and another is that of the South China Sea tussle.