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Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Zhou Pingjian delivering his speech during the launch of a report by the Africa Policy Institute (API) on tracking the Belt and Road Initiative in Nairobi on November 24, 2021.

Fifth Estate

China’s PLA@95: Disciplined Force for Peace and Justice

August 1, 2022 marks the 95th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA). The PLA is the people’s armed forces created and led by the Communist Party of China. It has always marched in lockstep with the Party and the country over the ninety-five years with historic contributions to China’s national liberation, its socialist reform and development drives, and to defending China’s sovereignty, security and development interests. It offers strong underpinnings on which regional stability and world peace can be upheld.

Entering a new era, guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military, the PLA adapts to new trends and developments in the world’s revolution in military affairs and adhere to its own path in building a strong military. It has formulated the following three-step development strategy for modernizing national defense and the armed forces: achieving the centenary objectives of the People’s Liberation Army by 2027; basically completing the modernization of national defense and the armed forces by 2035; and fully transforming the armed forces into world-class forces by the mid-21st century.

A strong military of China is a staunch force for world peace, stability and a community with a shared future for mankind. Its commitment to UN peacekeeping operations, escort missions in the Gulf of Aden, humanitarian responses and an array of other operations speaks for the true meaning of the PLA – standing fast as a disciplined force for peace and justice.

The world today is far from being peaceful and tranquil, has not completely defeated Covid-19, and yet is now facing the Ukraine crisis. An international situation already rife with uncertainties is witnessing one security threat after another. At this moment critical to world peace and development, President Xi Jinping proposed for the first time the Global Security Initiative (GSI) at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2022. 

The GSI champions commitments in six areas: to stay committed to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security; stay committed to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries; stay committed to abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter; stay committed to taking the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously; stay committed to peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation; and stay committed to maintaining security in both traditional and non-traditional domains. This important Initiative gives explicit answers to questions of our times such as what security concept the world needs and how countries can achieve common security. 

China is not only the initiator of the Global Security Initiative, but also a campaigner for its implementation. As the largest troop-contributing country among the permanent members of the UN Security Council and the second largest contributor to the UN’s regular budget and peacekeeping assessment, China has been supporting the UN’s peacekeeping operations with over 40,000 peacekeepers serving in 25 operations.

On the road leading to peace and security, China will always walk side by side with our African brothers. More than 80 percent of China’s military peacekeepers and 75 percent of its contributions to the peacekeeping assessment are deployed in Africa. China’s naval fleet has escorted nearly 7,000 Chinese and foreign vessels through the troubled waters off Somalia. Among the nine programmes under the first three-year plan of the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035 that President Xi announced at the opening ceremony of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) last November, peace and security plays an important role. China will undertake 10 peace and security projects for Africa, continue to deliver military assistance to the AU, support African countries’ efforts to independently maintain regional security and fight terrorism, and conduct joint exercises and on-site training between Chinese and African peacekeeping troops and cooperation on small arms and light weapons control.

To support the Horn of Africa in realizing lasting stability, peace and prosperity, Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi put forward the Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa during his official visit to Kenya in January, which resonated positively among African countries. Afterward, the Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Xue Bing paid a successful visit to Horn countries. The China-Horn of Africa Peace, Good Governance and Development Conference, recently held in the capital of Ethiopia, is another important joint step between China and Africa to advance the Outlook.  

As a good friend and good partner of countries in the region, China always supports regional countries in independently resolving regional issues. China is ready to work with Africa to jointly advance the “Initiative of Peaceful Development in the Horn of Africa”, and make positive contributions to the peaceful development in the Horn of Africa through Belt and Road cooperation between China and Africa and the implementation of outcomes of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

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The author is the Chinese Ambassador to Kenya.

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