At the request of the United Nations, the People’s Liberation Army sent the troops, made up of 35 engineers, 65 medical workers and 35 soldiers, to join the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali for eight months.
A 135-strong peacekeeping troop left for Mali on Tuesday, December 3, 2013, evening, in the first time China’s army has sent security forces as part of a peacekeeping mission.
The Chinese peacekeepers, all from a Harbin-based contingent, will be tasked with repairing roads and bridges, safeguarding peace and stability, and providing medical assistance. This is China’s 30th UN peacekeeping mission since 1990, but this is the first time China has sent security forces on such a mission. The troops are also equipped with a lot of Chinese-designed and manufactured military equipment, in another major difference from previous missions.
So far, more than 25,000 Chinese military personnel, police and civil affairs officials have participated in UN peacekeeping missions in 10 mission areas, making China the biggest contributor to such missions among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
According to the Ministry of National Defense, the Chinese security force will mainly guard the MINUSMA headquarters and the living areas of peacekeeping forces.
To adopt to the hot climate and the serious security situation, Zhang Geqiang, head of the contingent, led many special training programs for his team to enhance their physical and psychological capabilities. The security forces also underwent exercises such as anti-terrorism drills and handling large public events.