Enabler becomes enforcer
China has been participating in peacekeeping missions for nearly three decades. However, it is only in the past five years that in addition to contributing “peace enablers”, such as engineers and medical staff, the country has also provided “peace enforcers” via the deployment of police forces and infantry battalions.
China sent its first peacekeeping police force to the UN mission in Mali in 2013, and its first infantry battalion unit to South Sudan in 2015. In June, the first Chinese helicopter unit joined the peacekeeping effort in Darfur, western Sudan.
Senior Colonel Zhang Geqiang, who led the Chinese peacekeepers in Mali in 2013, said personnel are selected from the country’s best troops because they will represent China on the international stage.
For security personnel, the stakes are much higher, and knowledge can be the difference between life and death.” Senior Colonel Zhang Geqiang, commander of Chinese peacekeepers
“However, even the best require training so they are prepared for peacekeeping missions, and that knowledge can only be accumulated through years of trial and error,” he said. “For security personnel, the stakes are much higher, and knowledge can be the difference between life and death.”
When Zhang’s team returned from their mission, he and his colleagues wrote 13 training manuals for future peacekeepers. “These firsthand experiences will help to ensure the security and efficiency of future peacekeeping missions,” he said.
Gao Mingbo, section director of the Department of International Organizations and Conferences at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said China is the only UN country with a “triple identity”, because it is a major contributor of troops and funding, and is also a permanent member of t he UN Security Council.
“China will continue to uphold the basic principles of the UN charter, while discussing necessary and reasonable reforms to peacekeeping operations with other nations to make them more adaptable to changing situations,” he said. “China will also actively participate in future missions, and help mission-destination countries to achieve l ong term peace and prosperity.”