China’s armed forces play key roles in UN peacekeeping operations

By Du Yifei, People’s Daily


After a material escort team under attack from unidentified armed men asked for backup, a white Mi-171 helicopter with “UN” painted on it immediately carried a rapid response team to the scene of the attack. Upon arrival, eight soldiers in blue helmets simultaneously slid down ropes from the helicopter and cooperated with the material team to fight fiercely against the attackers.


The above-described scenes were part of the recently concluded multinational peacekeeping drill, “Shared Destiny-2021,” held by the Chinese military from Sept. 6 to 15 at a training base of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Ground Force.


More than 1,000 troops from China, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Thailand participated in the international peacekeeping live exercise held for the first time by the Chinese military.


Focusing on tasks including armed escort, protection of civilians, and response to violent and terrorist attacks, the multinational live drill on peacekeeping held amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic fully demonstrated China’s determination to support and contribute to the United Nations peacekeeping operations (UNPKOs) and further enhanced the exchanges, mutual trust and pragmatic cooperation between the country and its neighbors.


As a critical element and key force in UN peacekeeping, China has unswervingly supported the UNPKOs all along and exerted itself to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes and safeguard world peace, and regional security and stability.


In 1990, China’s armed forces officially joined the UNPKOs. Today, China ranks first among the permanent members of the UN Security Council in terms of the number of peacekeepers dispatched and is the second largest contributor to both peacekeeping assessment and UN membership fees.


China’s armed forces have sent nearly 50,000 peacekeepers to 25 UN peacekeeping missions, among whom 16 sacrificed their lives for the cause of world peace.


China has also carried out exchanges and cooperation with more than 90 countries and over 10 international and regional organizations on peacekeeping to constantly improve the peacekeeping capacity of its armed forces.


While contributing to a safe and stable environment for countries and regions in conflict, China’s armed forces also actively participate in medical support and health care, humanitarian assistance, environmental protection, improving lives, and social reconstruction, among other endeavors, trying to provide more public services for local people during the UNPKOs.


Over the past more than 30 years, China’s armed forces have built and rehabilitated more than 17,000 kilometers of roads and over 300 bridges, disposed of more than 18,000 landmines and unexploded ordnance, transported over 1.2 million tons of materials and equipment over a total distance of more than 13 million kilometers.


In addition, they have performed a large number of engineering tasks, including leveling ground, renovating airports, assembling prefabricated houses, and building defense works, and provided medical services to over 250,000 sick and wounded people.


In the past over three decades, Chinese peacekeeping troops have sown seeds of peace and hope in more than 20 countries and regions, including Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia, Sudan, Lebanon, Cyprus, South Sudan, and Mali.


In Sudan’s Darfur, which is located on the edge of a desert and one of the regions afflicted by the world’s most severe water shortages, engineer units of the Chinese UN peacekeeping force dug 14 wells after surmounting numerous difficulties, effectively alleviating the scarcity of drinking water for locals.


In the SOS Children’s Village in Bukavu, the DRC, members of the medical units of the Chinese UN peacekeeping force not only provide medical services for local children and teach them knowledge about disease prevention, but buy stationery, basketballs, and articles for daily use for them. Touched by the love and care from the units, children in the village called the female members their Chinese mothers.


Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, an engineer unit of the Chinese UN peacekeeping force completed the construction of a bridge over the Sopo River in South Sudan to the highest quality standards, adding an important transport route to the country suffering from severe food crises.


At this moment, more than 2,200 Chinese peacekeepers are serving in seven mission areas and at UN headquarters, making their contributions to world peace.


China has long been providing strong support for UN peacekeeping missions, said Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN Undersecretary-General for Peace Operations, adding that Chinese peacekeepers protect civilians, maintain law and order, help with local infrastructure construction, and improve people’s well-being, making huge contributions to world peace and development.


As the COVID-19 pandemic and threats including regional hotspot issues, ethnic conflicts, and terrorism have been intertwined since last year, peacekeepers have faced rising safety risks. To address the issue, China made efforts to promote the adoption of the first resolution on the protection of peacekeepers by the UN Security Council and initiated the launching of the Group of Friends on the Safety and Security of UN Peacekeepers mechanism, ensuring substantive progress in the security agenda of peacekeepers.


China also donated COVID-19 vaccines to UN peacekeepers, with priority given to those who serve in UN peacekeeping missions in Africa.


Besides, the country has continuously innovated the forms and expanded the ways of firmly supporting and actively participating in the UNPKOs. It is believed that no matter how the international landscape evolves, China’s armed forces will always remain a force of justice for world peace and development.