On Monday, incoming United Nations chief, António Guterres, visited President Xi in Beijing.  The Chinese leader was full of praise for the organization, calling it “the most universal, representative and authoritative intergovernmental international organization.”  At a time when China hopes to assert greater influence in global governance, Mr. Guterres’ goodwill visit is certainly a welcoming sign.  China’s aim to strengthen its role within the U.N. began in earnest in September 2015, when Xi “made his first visit to the annual General Assembly meeting in New York.”  It is there when he pledged China’s support and participation in U.N. peacekeeping efforts.  He specifically promised to set up a “permanent peacekeeping force of 8,000 troops and would provide $100 million to the African Union.”  It is relevant to note that out of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, China has “deployed the most troops in peacekeeping operations.

During the meeting, Mr. Guterres also commended China’s support for the Paris Agreement on climate change, although he did suggest that China ought to maintain “an effective combination in human rights, of civil and political rights and the economic and social rights in a balanced way,” perhaps hinting at the country’s need to improve on its checkered human rights record,   

Meanwhile, considering the fact that President-elect Trump has mentioned the possibility of withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement, many are curious as to whether American involvement will dissipate in the coming years.  With the possibility of a minor shakeup in the international order, Mr. Gueterres’ meeting with President Putin of Russia is also of significance.  It remains to be seen whether the United States will, in fact, recede from the global stage, as a period of American isolationism will allow China to assume greater responsibility. 

Written by: Adrian Lo

For more information:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/world/asia/china-un-chief-antonio-guterres.html