The concern of China playing a much active role in the UN and its specialized agencies which were previously undermined is now being challenged. China has not only been a part of UN since its initial founding but also one of the five permanent partners of its secret council. Over the past decade it has taken several measures to grow its influence not only in UN but also in its subsidiary bodies.
According to a new study conducted by Gateway House, China’s voluntary donations have been increased, from $51 million in 2010 to $172 million in 2019, a 346 per cent rise in nine to many international agencies. The report also suggests that China is present either as the head or a deputy position in almost all the critical international agencies. The eminent bodies are the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). These leadership roles in UN and other agencies of China give wariness to the founding principles of these organisations. Suspicions have been raised over china asserting this power and influence for its own interest.
China’s growing influence is stemming out of President Xi Jinping’s decisive foreign policy. One of the Chinese initiatives the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is now endorsed by UNIDO. Also, China’s contributions to the world agencies are now only second to those of the United States. During the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic when the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) held triennial elections to select 15 new members, China was selected even after its unsatisfactory human rights record, and the human and economic devastation caused by Covid-19 globally.
Even if Chinese government or its ministries are not in important positions in the UN, its state-owned companies are. The study stated that the International Seabed Authority has been given five contracts to Chinese companies for deep sea mining of polymetallic nodules, sulphides, and cobalt rich ferromanganese crusts.
India needs to make some changes and aim to be a proactive rule maker and set its own multilaterals. It should also increase its involvement and funding to international bodies where it feels will make a certain impact. Also, India should place the right people in these agencies, align with like-minded partners.