A fundamental question facing global governance today is whether the UN peacekeeping regime can function with enough skilled troops to execute increasingly demanding and complicated mandates. The People’s Republic of China is informally thought of as a potential lead troop-contributing country. China typically deploys non-combat enabler troops, and recently began deploying combat troops, which may have to engage in live fire to defend the mandate. The risks and costs associated with dispatching combat troops challenge the benefits that China derives from supporting peacekeeping. I first establish China’s feedback mechanisms to facilitate simple and complex learning against China’s peacekeeping trajectory and motivations for participation. I then address the implications of China’s combat troop deployment, focusing on the UN Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in Mali and the UN Mission in South Sudan. The article draws insights from interviews with Chinese foreign policy elites and UN officials, and participant observation at the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
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