Troops ready for S. Sudan
China dispatched the first 120 members of its 700strong peacekeeping infantry battalion to Juba, capital of South Sudan, on a 12-month United Nations mission on Sunday.
Two Chinese peacekeepers were killed there in July.
The battalion also includes a 13-member female unit to undertake humanitarian missions, and protect women and children’s rights, the Defense Ministry said.
The remainder of the battalion will leave in five separate deployments for South Sudan and replace the second batch of Chinese peacekeepers stationed there. The new battalion will protect civilians, UN staff and humanitarian workers, do patrols and escorts, and conduct other missions.
The third battalion is comprised mainly of officers and soldiers from the 54 th Group Army of the People’s Liberation Army.
Of the 700 personnel, 138 have previous peacekeeping experience.
Founded on July 9, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan became the newest country in the world and was embroiled in regional conflict. In 2014, the Security Council passed a resolution reinforcing the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.
China also deployed a 700-member battalion to South Sudan in January last year.
China currently has 2,639 peacekeepers on duty — more than all other permanent members on the UN Security Council combined — according to UN peacekeeping data. China is also the secondlargest financier of peacekeeping operations.
China’s growing participation in UN peacekeeping demonstrates its responsibility as a Security Council member and the second-largest economy in the world, said He Wenping, a researcher at the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
To tackle difficult missions and minimize risks, the PLA has been training its soldiers in various peacekeeping protocols and optimizing the battalion by adding veterans and building diversity, said Zhu Chenghu, a professor at PLA National Defense University.