BEIJING, July 31 (Xinhua) -- As a responsible stakeholder on global peace and stability, China has deployed its armed forces in the past 27 years to take part in dozens of international peacekeeping missions in accordance with related UN mechanisms.
Tasked with preserving peace, promoting reconciliation and facilitating reconstruction, the Chinese blue helmets have significantly stepped up their engagement and ranked among the world's top contributors.
CONTRIBUTION & PLEDGES
China first participated in UN peacekeeping missions in 1990, when five military observers were sent to Damascus, the capital of Syria.
Since then, China has dispatched a total of 35,000 person-times of peacekeeping and military personnel to take part in 24 UN missions.
The growing deployment in high-risk environments, and deepening involvement in local reconciliation and reconstruction processes of the Chinese "blue helmets" have demonstrated the country's goodwill -- "China is here for peace" as President Xi Jinping stated at the United Nations Peacekeeping Summit in 2015.
"It was for the purpose of peace that the UN peacekeeping operations came into being. Now as an important means of upholding world peace and security, the peacekeeping operations bring confidence to the conflict areas, and hope to the local people," Xi said at the summit.
The Chinese president pledged that China would take the lead in setting up a permanent peacekeeping police squad, build a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops, and provide free military aid of 100 million U.S. dollars to the African Union, as Africa has the biggest peacekeeping needs.
Addressing the UN General Assembly on the same day, Xi said, "We cannot realize the China Dream without a peaceful international environment, a stable world order and understanding, support and help from the rest of the world."
"No matter how the international landscape may evolve and how strong China may become, it will never pursue hegemony, expansion or sphere of influence," he added.
China's contribution has been recognized and applauded by the rest of the world.
"As the second largest financial contributor, China's contribution to peacekeeping is extremely important," Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
On average, China contributes more troops to UN peacekeeping missions than any other permanent member of the UN Security Council.
"What is remarkable is that the contributions of China are of very high quality," Lacroix said, adding that "I was deeply impressed by the quality of the Chinese contingent, qualified people and quality equipment -- this is very important."
SACRIFICE & HONOR
With more than 2,000 peacekeepers deployed in a number of countries such as Lebanon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Mali, China is committed to co-building and sharing a world with lasting peace and common security.
In the past 27 years, a total of 13 Chinese soldiers have sacrificed their lives during their peacekeeping missions abroad.
Shen Liangliang, a 29-year-old sergeant first class, was killed in a terrorist attack on the night of May 31, 2016 in Mali's northern town of Gao, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated at a UN camp.
One month later, two Chinese peacekeepers, Li Lei and Yang Shupeng, died and five others were injured after their vehicle was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade while guarding a refugee camp near a UN compound for displaced people in South Sudan.
In Lebanon, the Chinese peacekeepers have conducted demining programs for years along the 121-km-long "blue line" which serves as the border with Israel. The sparsely populated border region was deemed as the "Death Zone" by locals and UN missions because of the minefield, a complex geographical environment, a hot climate, thistles and thorns, as well as vipers and insects.
Chinese "blue helmets" provided free services for the Lebanese people, as well as Palestinian and Syrian refugees, offering medical treatment to everyone who was checked at the sentry. They also renovated roads in Ebola-affected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Wherever they go, the Chinese soldiers are always welcomed with thumbs-ups and praises such as "China good" or "China friend."
For decades, the Chinese "blue helmets" have shown their love to the local people through their brave actions, and helped build "a community of shared future for mankind." They deserve the reputation as envoys of peace.