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China Daily Website

Keeping the peace

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

Keeping the peace

Track record

In 1981, the Chinese government expressed its support in line with the spirit of the UN Charter of peacekeeping operations.

In 1990, the PLA sent five military observers to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, making it the first instance of Chinese military personnel serving in global peacekeeping missions.

From 1992 to 1993, about 800 engineers from the PLA joined the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia, becoming the first organized Chinese troops to go on peacekeeping missions.

China's involvement in UN missions has since grown, and the mission in Mali includes the first PLA security forces for peacekeeping.

On Dec 17, the first squad of the ninth peacekeeping contingent assigned for an eight-month United Nations peacekeeping mission in Sudan departed.

The 105-member squad is mainly comprised of engineers, guards and medical staff from the PLA Jinan Military Area Command, which has participated in the Sudan peacekeeping mission four times.

Keeping the peace

Chinese peacekeepers hold a drill at a Beijing training center in June before heading out on a UN peacekeeping mission. Wang Jing / China Daily

The peacekeeping experiences has helped in the PLA's development also, the Defense Ministry statement says.

"Most of the missions are undertaken in tough conditions and environment, and hence are good experiences for enhancing the army's capabilities," the statement says.

"On the other hand, it is also a great opportunity to stay in touch with other armies, and to gain good experiences from other troops."

To adapt to the hot climate and the grim security situation, Zhang Geqiang, head of the contingent bound for Mali, says his team had to undergo special training programs for boosting physical and psychological capabilities. The security forces also underwent exercises such as anti-terrorism drills and handling large public events.

The rigorous training program undertaken by the Chinese contingent also got a special word of appreciation from UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous. During a trip to China in October, Ladsous inspected the troops in Harbin and said the Chinese peacekeepers were the best he had met, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Ladsous said the situation in Mali is very unstable with extremists rampant in the region, so the Malian government needs help from the international community to restore law and order.

"I am very happy to see China contribute to the peacekeeping mission in Mali. Besides the engineering and medical crews, the troops to Mali also include security forces. This is also a big step for China in UN peacekeeping missions," Ladsous said.

The troops to Mali are also equipped with Chinese-designed and manufactured military equipment, a major difference from previous missions.

About 98 percent of the medical equipment being carried by the 65-member medical team has been made in China.

"When I was working in Congo in 2005 as a peacekeeper, we had to use foreign equipment for medical check-ups," says Liu Wei, the doctor-in-charge of the medical crew.

"This time, most of the equipment is from China, and it makes it easier for us as we are familiar with it. Some of the equipment, such as the Chinese army ambulance, can protect the medical crew and also improve work efficiency," he saya.

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