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China expanded influence in UN bodies over the past decade: Study

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

China expanded influence in UN bodies over the past decade: Study:


China has taken numerous steps over the past decade to expand its influence in the United Nations (UN) and related bodies.

Various steps taken by China include:

  1. Increase in funding: There has been a nearly 350% increase in voluntary donations to these organisations by China.
  2. Dominant position: China increased its influence in crucial non-UN multilateral bodies and is now in a “dominant position” in several such organisations in terms of personnel and funding (Eg:ITU and UNIDO).
  3. Focus groups: China’s focus has been on bodies that help set international standards in order to boost the fortunes of Chinese companies and to favour Beijing’s projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative.

Impacts of these measures:

  1. China directly heads four of 15 principal agencies of the UN – ITU, UNIDO, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
  2. Chinese deputies are present in nine of these agencies, including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Maritime Organisation (IMO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and World Health Organization (WHO).

How has China benefited from these positions?

  1. ITU also has Chinese representatives serving two terms. This ensures that Chinese national champions like Huawei and its standards become embedded and implemented by UN agencies engaged in development work in sparsely penetrated markets like the African continent, the Pacific, and South and Southeast Asia (Eg: acceptance of blockchain standards for finance).
  2. UNIDO: China has connected UNIDO to its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which UNIDO now endorses.
  3. ICAO: China’s positioning at ICAO, which sets air navigation and safety standards, ensured that during the pandemic, Taiwan was excluded from all discussions – just as it was with the WHO, over which China has a disproportionate influence.

How are the other countries responding?

The US started renegotiating the Postal Treaty in 2019 to increase stamp costs on post and mail originating from China. This was done after it was found it was cheaper to send a package from China to the US than between two destinations within the US.

How can India counter such moves by China?

  1. A more proactive role as a rule-maker.
  2. Setting up and leading its own multilaterals such as the International Solar Alliance and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
  3. Increasing voluntary contributions to agencies and bodies where it believes it can play a larger role.
  4. Sponsoring Indian nationals for influential policy positions in the UN system.


Insta Curious:

  1. Funding for the United Nations comes from two sources- Assessed and Voluntary. Do you know the differences between them?  Read here:



Prelims Link:

Briefly study about the following UN Organisations:

  1. ITU.
  2. UNIDO.
  3. FAO.
  4. ICAO.
  5. IMF.
  6. IMO.

Mains Link:

Discuss how China has Increased its influence over multiple UN organs and how it will impact India.

Sources: the Hindu.