Chinese peacekeepers face up to challenges to safeguard world peace, stability

Source: XinhuaEditor: Huang Panyue
2016-08-03 08:29

Deep into a primeval forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the weather is harsh -- you just sweat all over when it is sunny, get covered with mud when it rains, and could have a layer of your skin "removed" by the scorching sun that comes out again.

This is where the Chinese peacekeepers in the Central African country carry out most of their missions.

On the eve of the Chinese Spring Festival that fell on Feb. 7 this year, a section of the Baraka-Lusenda road in South Kivu Province in eastern D. R. Congo was severely damaged by a landslide caused by torrential rains.

The road is the only way for the South Kivu brigade of the U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) to reach the Lusenda refugee camp sheltering about 7,500 people, which was set up in June 2015 on the forested border between Burundi and the D.R.Congo.

The Chinese engineers were dab hands at rebuilding the damaged road. However, MONUSCO's South Kivu brigade was hesitating about whether to request the Chinese blue helmets to carry out the job, as they were celebrating their traditional Spring Festival -- the most important annual holiday season for the Chinese.

However, Liu Wei, commander of the 19th Chinese peacekeeping engineer detachment to the D. R. Congo, said: "Although it was on the occasion of the Spring Festival, Chinese blue helmets put implementation of tasks on top of their agenda and will successfully accomplish their mission."

In fact, the extent of damage of the road was much more than what the soldiers could imagine. On one side of the road, there were 20 meter-plus heaps of debris; on the other side, there was a trench as deep as more than 30 meters. The road was very narrow and some parts of it only could allow one machine to pass.

Nevertheless, no one complained or wanted to quit. After three days and two nights of arduous work, the lifeline passageway was reopened.

U.N. staff, local government officials and peacekeepers from other countries were deeply moved by the spirit of the Chinese engineers.

Guided by such a spirit of facing up to challenges, more than 30,000 Chinese peacekeepers have served overseas since China sent in April 1990 five military observers to the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization, which monitors and reports violations of cease-fire agreements in the Middle East.

Now nearly 2,500 Chinese peacekeepers are serving in nine U.N. peacekeeping operations.

Chinese peacekeepers have built or repaired more than 11,000 km of roads and more than 300 bridges. They have removed 9,400 mines or unexploded devices, and treated 149,000 patients.

But behind such accomplishments, the soldiers have sacrificed a lot.

Two years ago, when a vice commander of a medical detachment was carrying out a overseas mission, his father fell seriously ill. The doctor knew the seriousness of the disease, but he could do nothing about it. He had to pretend to be happy to call his unknowing father and quietly wept in a corner after he hung up.

One year ago, a member of a engineer detachment always held a cellphone displaying with no signal when he was having a rest. Staring at the photos of his son who was born shortly after he arrived overseas, he could not help touching the face, hands and feet of his baby on the cellphone's screen.

And the most painful experience for the soldiers is seeing the bodies of their comrades-in-arms put into coffins covered with a Chinese national flag -- They came for peace but passed away due to war.

Since 1990, a total of 13 Chinese peacekeepers have lost their lives on duty.

On July 8, Corporal Li Lei, 22, and Master Sergeant Yang Shupeng, 33, were killed in fighting between government troops of President Salva Kiir and forces loyal to Vice President Riek Machar in South Sudan's capital of Juba.

On May 31, Shen Liangliang, a 29-year-old sergeant first class, was killed in a terrorist attack in the northern Malian town of Gao, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated at a U.N. camp.

Wiping off tears after seeing off their dead comrades, the Chinese blue helmets, with their high professionalism, fearlessness and compassion, keep advancing in continued display of the bravery and loyalty of contemporary Chinese servicemen.

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