China may seek greater role in Haiti as UN Security Council extends political mission

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United Nations Security Council On Friday, they voted unanimously to extend their UN Joint Office in Haiti for another year, but did not support a Chinese-initiated provision that includes some bans on the transfer of small arms and light weapons.

The movement is another example of how China is trying to expand its involvement in the island.

Violence erupted in Haiti after last year’s murder President Jovenel Moise. The authorities failed to identify and arrest those involved in planning and financing the assassination, while the gangs actively expanded their territory during the absence of leadership.

The UN mandate will run until July 15, 2023, with a focus on helping to create a locally designed and driven political process that will enable peaceful, free and fair presidential elections.

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Mexican UN Ambassador Juan Ramón de la Fuente Ramirez said the mandate sent a “clear signal” that the necessary Haitian parties must reach an agreement that would lead to the restoration of institutional order.

The Haitian government is due to provide an update on progress towards these goals by October. 17 this year.

USA and Mexico submitted a resolution this aims to enhance the ability of the Haitian National Police to deal with gang violence and to coordinate support from the international community in the fight against arms trafficking.

China wanted more aggressive action and demanded a total embargo on small arms trafficking “to non-state actors involved in or supporting gang violence” in Haiti.

“This is a necessary step,” said Zhang Jun, the People’s Republic of China’s permanent representative to the world body. China has also pushed for a broader set of actions, including expanding police capacity and tightening port and border measures as part of the fight against arms trafficking, which it cited as the root cause of the ongoing violence.

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Zhang also urged all countries to strengthen arms export controls, which he said China would do with “relevant countries.”

China’s heightened interest in the country could be due to the fact that previous leaders of Haiti recognized Taiwan. Some analysts suggest that Beijing may try to influence any political transition to persuade the country to change its stance on the Taiwan issue, Reuters reported.

Zhang Jun, Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations, speaks at a meeting of the Security Council on Afghanistan at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, on March 10, 2020.

Zhang Jun, Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations, speaks at a meeting of the Security Council on Afghanistan at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, on March 10, 2020.
(Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

Beijing insists that tough stance on Haiti has nothing to do with this recognition, but rather with the desire to take “meaningful” action.

“The situation in Haiti cannot be worse,” a spokesman for the Chinese mission to the UN told AFP. “While we are negotiating here, banditry in Port-au-Prince is escalating.”

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“An arms embargo against criminal groups is the bare minimum. advice should be done in response to a horrendous situation,” she added.

Zhang said he hoped the failure to take stronger action “wouldn’t send the wrong signal to the gangs” and that China would continue to push for the embargo.

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The US has said it has no objection to the embargo, but is demanding that a sanctions committee or UN panel of experts oversee it.

This “will require more work,” a diplomatic source told AFP.