China Global

China’s Role in the United Nations

Episode Summary

China has been a member of the United Nations and the UN Security Council since its founding. UN Resolution 2758, which expelled the Republic of China and gave its seat to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), marked a turning point in the PRC’s diplomatic representation and led to the normalization of relations with many countries, including the United States. Over time, China became an active participant in the UN and its influence increased dramatically. In 2020, China headed four of the 15 principal specialized agencies of the UN and had deputies in nine other agencies. In his speech at the 20th Party Congress in October, China’s leader Xi Jinping said that “China is firm in safeguarding the international system with the United Nations at its core,” reiterating the importance that China attaches to the UN in the international system. Beijing’s agenda in the United Nations provides important clues about its views of the global order and how it seeks to revise that order to defend and advance its interests. At times, China has voted alongside the United States and its allies, such as when sanctions were imposed on North Korea for conducting nuclear weapons tests. However, on other issues, such as human rights and the war in Ukraine, Beijing has adopted opposing positions. To discuss China’s policy toward the UN, host Bonnie Glaser speaks with Dr. Courtney Fung, an associate professor in the Department of Security Studies & Criminology at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Fung is also an associate fellow at both Chatham House and the Lowy Institute and her book, China and Intervention at the UN Security Council: Reconciling Status (2019), examines China’s engagement with the UN.

Episode Notes

[2:20] UN Significance & China’s Objectives

[8:25] China’s Veto Power

[11:17] UN Security Council Reform

[13:53] China’s Funding Contributions

[18:13] China’s Leadership in UN Agencies

[25:21] Influence on WHO & COVID-19

[28:47] China’s Future Role in the UN