529. Beijing Exploits UN System

Beijing Exploits UN System

Increasing illiberal influence globally through small donations

Anders Corr

Anders Corr
November 20, 2021

News Analysis

Beijing expertly leverages international organizations to maximize the regime’s growing influence, according to a new study. The regime’s financial contributions to these organizations are small, segregated, and targeted for maximum advantage.

Yet the Beijing regime seeks to portray itself as a responsible member of the international community. Even as it commits multiple genocides, according to the U.N. definition, and threatens war against the United States and allies, Beijing exploits democratic voting structures in international organizations while denying those structures to its own citizens.

Analysis of a new report released by the Center for Global Development (CGD) reveals that China’s contributions are tightly controlled, segregated from dilution by the far larger and less strategic donations of global democracies, and leveraged for maximum advantage to itself, rather than to the broader goals of the international community.

While the U.N. system supposedly seeks to promote human rights and democracy, Beijing instead uses it to deny sovereignty to democratic Taiwan, along with other illiberal goals under cover of “peace and development.”

Peace for Beijing means continuing human rights abuse and the taking of territory from its neighbors without provoking self-defense by the world’s democracies. Development means increasing China’s own economic power, especially at the expense of its major geopolitical competitors, the United States, Europe, Japan, and India.

As noted by the CGD authors, China “has become a top donor to multilateral institutions and funds devoted to infrastructure and agriculture but its contributions to funds focused on public goods like climate and global health remain disproportionately low.”

China is the world’s second-largest economy, but typically ranks between 10th and 30th in funding of multilateral institutions. Beijing has an increasing voting share in these organizations, but it often earmarks contributions to allow the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to use its “donations” and loans for global influence operations or export goals.

“Chinese firms, many of which are particularly competitive in high value infrastructure sectors, have been particularly successful in MDB [multilateral development bank] procurements,” according to Scott Morris, Rowan Rockafellow, and Sarah Rose, who co-authored the report.

CCP leader Xi Jinping’s 2015 creation of the $3 billion South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund engages with multilateral actors to implement the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal agenda. But between 2013 and 2018, 91 percent of its completed projects were in public and economic infrastructure, from which Beijing benefits because of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that exports China’s excess industrial production.

Epoch Times Photo
Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attend a summit for the Belt and Road Initiative, at the International Conference Center in Yanqi Lake, north of Beijing, on May 15, 2017. (Lintao Zhang/AFP/Getty Images)

China’s polluting and subsidized iron, steel, and prefabricated building industries are overproducing, and the United Nations, in contradiction to its own Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) is there to help the Beijing regime find more markets.

In 2017, China’s Ministry of Finance signed an agreement with five multilateral development banks to promote connectivity and infrastructure, which suits its attempts to control the rollout of the 5G infrastructure Beijing uses for espionage.

Instead of pledging donations of COVID-19 vaccines to the international COVAX access facility, as have many countries in addition to their financial contributions, Chinese pharmaceutical companies have benefited from COVAX agreements to buy 550 million vaccines from China through mid-2022. This, despite the CCP’s culpability in the initial spread of COVID-19 due to its initial cover-up of the Wuhan outbreak in 2019, and the lackluster effectiveness of Chinese-made vaccines compared to their Western counterparts.

On balance, China benefited disproportionately through multilateral engagement compared to its financial contributions, despite it being the world’s second-largest economy. The Asian Development Bank (ADB), for example, has committed $43.3 billion to developing China, but Beijing only co-financed ADB projects worth $6.1 billion (plus capital subscriptions of approximately $9.85 billion).

The U.N. Development Program (UNDP) assisted China in its 2001 accession to the World Trade Organization, which facilitated its economic explosion and military modernization. The UNDP in 2010 also supported Beijing’s South-South “cooperation,” which facilitates the CCP’s dominance of votes at the U.N. General Assembly. In 2016, the UNDP supported BRI, which promotes China’s exports and attempts at controlling ports that serve Beijing’s global naval expansion.

Given the regime’s ongoing genocide against Uyghurs, Tibetans, and Falun Gong, as well as its increasing military belligerence against democracies, anyone who supports democracy and human rights should take a stand against Beijing’s leveraging of the world’s international organizations for its own benefit.

To put an end to the regime’s global malign influence, the leading entities in the international system, including the United States, European Union, Japan, and India, should end their complicity in allowing Beijing a seat at the international table.

What used to be a friendly gesture of inclusion and engagement of China is now an unacceptable complicity in allowing the Beijing regime to take advantage of democratic international institutions for malign purposes and against democratic values.

Anders Corr has a bachelor’s/master’s in political science from Yale University (2001) and a doctorate in government from Harvard University (2008). He is a principal at Corr Analytics Inc., publisher of the Journal of Political Risk, and has conducted extensive research in North America, Europe, and Asia. He authored “The Concentration of Power” (forthcoming in 2021) and “No Trespassing,” and edited “Great Powers, Grand Strategies.”

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