Chinese peacekeepers: important contributor of world peace
Chinese peacekeepers patrol at the Protection of Civilians site 1 beside the United Nations House in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Aug 11, 2016. The UN Security Council voted for a resolution to authorize deployment of 4,000 troops to strengthen the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, known as UNMISS, after a renewed fighting in Juba. [Photo/Xinhua]
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (UN) and the 30th year since China's armed forces first participated in UN peacekeeping operations (UNPKOs).
A white paper entitled "China's Armed Forces: 30 Years of UN Peacekeeping Operations" was released by the State Council Information Office on Sept 18, a key document detailing how China's armed forces have become a key force in serving the cause of world peace.
Service and Sacrifice
From Sudan's West Darfur and South Sudan to Mali, every mission undertaken by Chinese peacekeeper Liu Yong has been in a dangerous armed conflict environment.
He recalled: "When I was on a mission in the South Sudan as a member of an infantry battalion in 2015, the government and anti-government forces frequently exchanged fire and gunfights erupted less than 100 meters away from our base. We clearly heard the deafening explosions and smelt the gunpowder."
"Luckily, we handled it properly. We managed to protect ourselves from being drawn into the conflict and protected the local residents from being hurt."
Mi Xiugang was once a member of the first, third, and fifth batches of Chinese peacekeeping infantry battalions dispatched to South Sudan. On July 10, 2016, two of his comrades, Li Lei and Yang Shupeng, were killed during a mission when their armored vehicle was hit by a shell.
Mi Xiugang said: "Now, the infantry fighting vehicle they once took is still quietly parked in a corner of the Chinese peacekeeping infantry base in South Sudan. We often lay floral tributes. They are our role models who support us emotionally when we are confronted with threats and dangers."
Peacekeeping operations are often conducted in conflict zones with dire living conditions and inadequate infrastructure.
"I undertook my first peacekeeping mission in January 2015 when the main task was to build a new camp. In that wasteland, we used our hands to loosen the soil and move stones," Mi recalled.
"To finish constructing the new camp before the rainy season, everyone worked round the clock. In about a month, 666 prefabricated houses were successfully built. Local UN officials praised the work as the 'Chinese Miracle'", he said.
A contributor to world peace and development
Talking about the changes of the area where they stationed during the peacekeeping mission, Mi Xiugang recalled: "Due to the precarious security situation, the villagers living near our camp would choose to go out to steal, rather than plant crops and raise livestock themselves because these were being stolen from them."
"After we Chinese peacekeeping forces provided a 24-hour guard, and conducted regular patrols, the security environment improved and the villagers have gradually begun to grow crops. Local villagers said that the Chinese troop made them feel safe and secure and they no longer feared any robberies."
Lu Jianxin, professor at College of International Studies of National University of Defense Technology, said that, in the past 30 years, apart from completing their peacekeeping missions, the Chinese peacekeeping troops have also played an active role in post-conflict reconstruction, including helping local people build roads, airports, and bridges.
China has scaled up support for and involvement in the UNPKOs. It has become the second largest contributor of funding for peacekeeping missions and the largest troop-contributing country among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, said Major General Luo Wei with the Ministry of National Defense.
"China has actively participated in the UNPKOs, meeting the responsibilities of a major country firmly committed to the path of peaceful development," said Senior Colonel Cai Hui, an associate professor with the School of International Relations of the National University of Defense Technology and a senior instructor with the Center for Peacekeeping Affairs under the Ministry of National Defense.
"China's rise will not pose threats to any country. Its rising military might means a strengthened force in maintaining the world's peace," Cai added.