All for Peace, China's overseas peacekeeping efforts in 27 years

China Military Online
Zhang Tao

By Luo Zheng and Zhu Hongliang

BEIJING, July 10 (ChinaMil) -- The UN peacekeeping mission is aimed for peace, the common aspiration and lofty goal of all human beings.

Of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China has assigned the most peacekeepers for overseas peacekeeping missions in the past 27 years.

"Chinese peacekeepers, by playing an active role in various UN missions, have demonstrated China's image as a big peace-loving and responsible country and contributed a lot to the world peace," said someone responsible at the Peacekeeping Affairs Office of China's Ministry of National Defense (MND).

In the past 27 years, China's peacekeeping efforts have achieved leapfrog development.

In April 1990, news about Chinese peacekeepers first appeared on a bulletin of UN peacekeeping mission: five military observers from the PLA arrived in Damascus.

This bulletin with photos on it witnessed the beginning of China's participation in international peacekeeping missions. To date, the Chinese military has assigned peacekeepers of more than 35,000 person times accumulatively, participated in 24 UN peacekeeping missions, and is reputed as "a key factor and force of peacekeeping missions" by the international community.

In the past 27 years, China's peacekeeping efforts have developed in depth and achieved leapfrog development.

Regarding mission area, China has expanded from the Middle East to multiple areas in Asia and Africa.

Regarding the type of soldiers, China has expanded from engineering units alone to multiple units including infantry, engineering, transportation, medical, security and army aviation.

Regarding the scale of peacekeepers, it has expanded from five military observers to today's 2,409 military peacekeepers, the largest amount of the five permanent members of the UN Security council.

Regarding the position, Chinese peacekeepers have moved from military observer to a number of medium and high-level posts such as staff officer, division chief and unit commander.

Regarding the sharing of peacekeeping fund, China makes the second largest contribution in the world.

Regarding the training mechanism, the Chinese military has set up a peacekeeping training system covering primary, medium and high levels.

Regarding foreign communication, the MND Peacekeeping Center provides an important platform to train peacekeepers and conduct international exchanges, and some Chinese officers have given training lessons at UN organizations.

At the UN Peacekeeping Summit in September 2015, China solemnly announced that it will join the new UN Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System and has thus decided to take the lead in setting up a permanent peacekeeping police squad and build a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops.

It will give favorable consideration to UN requests for more Chinese engineering troops and transport and medical staff to take part in UN peacekeeping operations.

In the coming five years, it will train 2,000 peacekeepers from other countries, and carry out 10 mine clearance assistance programs.

It will also provide free military aid of US$100 million to the African Union in the same period to support the building of the African Standby Force and African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises.

China will also send its first peacekeeping helicopter squad to UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, and part of the China-UN peace and development fund will be used to support UN peacekeeping operations.

"These commitments are important measures taken by China to safeguard international peace and security and undertake greater international responsibilities. They also showcase China's resolve to firmly defend world peace and its staunch support to UN peacekeeping missions," said Wang Fan, vice president of China Foreign Affairs University.

The series of measures are being implemented now. It's foreseeable that China's active support to and expanded participation in UN peacekeeping operations will inject a new driving force for international peace and security.

In the past 27 years, China's peacekeepers have demonstrated their sense of responsibility with outstanding competence.

Danger and challenges are everywhere in the mission areas, but Chinese peacekeepers have never faltered in face of death and have demonstrated their sense of responsibility with outstanding competence.

When the Ebola virus swept across Africa in 2014-2015, soldiers of the engineering detachment of Chinese peacekeeping troops to Liberia carried out continuous construction for 28 days despite the risk of infection and worked more than 16 hours per day on average.

As a result, they completed the construction of the Ebola diagnosis and treatment center, an aid program by China to Liberia, more than 30 days ahead of schedule.

In March 2017, intense armed conflicts broke out in Yei, a border town in South Sudan, and seven UN civilian staffs were trapped in the conflict area facing serious threat of death. Knowing about this, the Chinese peacekeeping infantry battalion assigned 12 soldiers to rescue them.

But the minute the rescue team drove out of the temporary base, they encountered several pickups equipped with heavy machine guns and squad-size militants drove fast toward the conflict area from time to time while firing shots.

The rescue team calmly dealt with the constant dangers and successfully transported all UN civilian staffs to the temporary base.

This rescue mission was widely applauded by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), whose special representative David Shearer said Chinese peacekeepers deserve credit for their "powerful" responses and timely interventions.

No matter which mission area it was and how tough the conditions were, Chinese peacekeepers always accomplished peacekeeping operations with flying colors, demonstrating the competence and responsibility of Chinese soldiers in the international peacekeeping community.

In the dry season of Mali, when the highest temperature is close to 50 Celsius degree, Chinese peacekeepers completed a level-2 hospital within four months. In Cambodia, they created the legend of "one bridge a day".

In Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, soldiers of the first batch of Chinese peacekeeping infantry battalion built their own barracks among the ripraps and ruderal against extremely high temperature and moved into new barracks a month later.

Chinese peacekeepers have gained extensive accolade for their outstanding competence in the past 27 years. "Chinese peacekeeping troops are the most professional, efficient, well-trained and disciplined force in UN missions forces," said a study report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

"The Chinese troops make me assured," said Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN Under-Secretary-General (USG) for Peacekeeping Operations, adding that he believed the Chinese peacekeepers will continue to exert their sound capabilities and make remarkable contributions to UN peacekeeping missions.

In the past 27 years, China's peacekeepers' peaceful image have won recognition of the world .

In face of the new international situations, Chinese peacekeepers have actively responded to and practiced the concept of "human community of shared destiny" and created a new realm in China's peacekeeping undertaking with concrete actions.

As more and more Chinese peacekeepers move to the world, their peaceful image characterized by sincerity, kindness and friendliness have won recognition of the world.

When she participated in the peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the first time, Hou Dan, head nurse of the medical detachment, was shocked by the devastated state left by war.

At one time a 19-year-old black girl bitten by a hippo was transferred from another hospital, with her legs rotting. Medical personnel of the Chinese peacekeeping force tried their best to save the girl, and used a lot of water to scrub her clean. She finally got healthy thanks to their careful treatment.

Seeing the poverty, hunger, disease and turmoil of war with her own eyes , Hou Dan said she wanted to "bring hope of peace to people there with her love".

From Mali to South Sudan, from the DRC to Liberia, stories like this happen almost every day in the mission areas that Chinese peacekeepers were stationed.

In DRC, Obstetrics and Gynecology doctor Zhao Ling and translator Hui Pan, who were members of the Chinese peacekeeping medical detachment, learned that more than 30 women in a village in the suburb of Bukavu were outraged, and they carried out a rescue mission in the mountain area at the risk of losing their lives.

A victim told Zhao Ling that she was seven months pregnant when the tragedy happened, and her one-year-old son was beaten to death. She had lost all hope of life, but the news that the baby in her stomach was still alive showed her a glimmer of hope again. "I'm grateful to the Chinese soldiers for their help. When my baby is born, I'll tell him that he also has a 'Chinese mother'."

In Mali, Chinese peacekeepers actively provided humanitarian aid while accomplishing their tasks. They held the Peacekeeping Base Open Day regularly, invited local children to visit their base camp, taught them Chinese language and songs, and presented them with stationery, in a bid to show their friendliness to the Mali people.

Chinese peacekeepers warmed the heart of local residents with their actions and showed the world Chinese people's infinite love and generosity.

In many mission areas, the locals took the initiative to contact Chinese peacekeepers, and many of them said that although they didn't understand the English on the uniform, they knew that those with the red star on their arm badge were good people.


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