China's international role

The United Nations

United Nations building in New York City, USA
United Nations building in New York City, USA

Communist China joined the United Nations (UN) in 1971 and has permanent membership on the UN Security Council (one of the permanent five, P5).

As China has grown wealthier, its contribution to the UN budget has increased. China will be the the third-largest contributor to UN regular budget 2016-2018, with its assessed contribution accounting for 7.9 percent.

However, although China has the world's second largest economy (in 2015), the UN recognises that per capita income is low (outside top 100 in world). As many as 100-150 million of the Chinese population live on or below the UN poverty line. It is for that reason that China cannot be expected to match the contribution of the US.

As one of only five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China has the opportunity to veto any proposal put forward by the Security Council. The Security Council is the part of the UN responsible for peacemaking and peacekeeping, as well as international sanctions. China's role on the Security Council makes it very influential within the UN and around the world.

Compared to the other permanent members of the UN Security Council, China has used its veto only sparingly. It often prefers to abstain instead. However, in 2014 both China and Russia used their veto to block a UN resolution calling for the crisis in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court. This veto was strongly condemned by the other members of the UN Security Council.

G8 and G20 Group

China is a member of the G8 and G20 economic groups. These groups contain most of the countries in the world with the largest economies.

Summits or meetings of the leaders of the G8 countries offer the opportunity for China and other group members to develop closer economic ties to expand trade. Membership also allows China another forum to discuss issues of global concern such as climate change, terrorism or trade.

The G20 has similar aims to the G8 but includes an additional 12 members to reflect the growing economic importance of countries such as Brazil, India and Indonesia.