As part of its increasing efforts to present itself as a "good citizen" of the world community, China has been taking part in peacekeeping operations. At present the Chinese have some one thousand troops committed to various U.N. peacekeeping missions. The largest contingent is a battalion of about 550 troops who are performing civic action missions in support of the U.N. mission in Liberia. There are also some 225 troops supporting the U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, another 125 in Haiti, and a number of observers and technical specialists scattered across several other missions.
The UN is particularly happy to have China sending troops on peacekeeping missions, for several reasons. First, China has a permanent seat on the Security Council, and a veto over anything the UN wants to do. The UN rarely gets such members involved in peacekeeping. Moreover, China has a rapidly growing economy, and defense budget, but little recent military experience. The peacekeeping duty is an opportunity for some Chinese officers and troops to get some valuable experience. It also enables Chinese intelligence agents an opportunity to keep an eye on troublespots from very close range.