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Keeping the peace

Updated: 2013-12-20 13:29
By Zhao Yanrong ( China Daily Africa)

Keeping the peace

Chinese troops help UN maintain lives and livelihood in conflict-ridden African nations

With only a few international flights landing and leaving from Harbin, the capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, the city's international airport usually remains quiet. However, on Dec 3, the departure area was bustling with activity as a 135-member Chinese peacekeeping force left for Mali, including 35 engineers, 65 medical workers and 35 soldiers, to join the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the African country for eight months.

The Chinese peacekeepers, all from a Harbin-based contingent, will be tasked with repairing roads and bridges, keeping peace and stability, and providing medical assistance. This is China's 30th UN peacekeeping mission since 1990.

So far, more than 25,000 Chinese military personnel, police and civil affairs officials have participated in UN peacekeeping missions in 10 mission areas, making China the biggest contributor to such missions among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

However, this is the first time that China has sent security forces on such a mission.

According to the Ministry of National Defense, the Chinese security force will mainly guard the MINUSMA headquarters and the living areas of peacekeeping forces.

"The Chinese peacekeepers will abide by UN peacekeeping regulations and play a constructive role in safeguarding peace and stability in Mali and the region as a whole," says Yang Yujun, a spokesman for the ministry.

 Keeping the peace

Chinese troops take part in a UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2003. Provided to China Daily

China provides more peacekeepers to the UN than all four other permanent members (of the Security Council) combined, says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "I applaud this solidarity."

Ban visited Chinese peacekeeping troops in Lebanon in 2007 and 2009. "I have seen the bravery of Chinese blue helmets in helping struggling communities around the world," he said.

"China is a rising country in terms of political profile and economic development that also requires corresponding responsibility for world peace and development. And I count on China's continuing contribution."

The mission in Mali was established in April this year to support the transitional authorities of Mali in the stabilization of the country and implementation of the transitional roadmap, focusing on major population centers and lines of communication, protecting civilians, human rights monitoring, the creation of conditions for the provision of humanitarian assistance and the return of displaced persons, the extension of state authority and the preparation of free, inclusive and peaceful elections.

A couple of months later, the UN requested Chinese troops for the mission. The Peacekeeping Affairs Office of the Ministry of National Defense says there are three major reasons why the UN wanted Chinese troops to operate in the newly established mission.

"The People's Liberation Army has an outstanding track record in UN peacekeeping missions, and has won compliments from many countries and UN agencies. The international community expects us to further increase participation in peacekeeping missions," says a statement from the peacekeeping affairs office.

Moreover, with the PLA's military capability continually improving, it helps provide stronger support for UN peacekeeping operations, the statement says.

"After 20 years of work on UN peacekeeping missions, the PLA has established mature management mechanisms and gained valuable experiences."

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