As China’s military looks to reform domestically, it’s also expanding its presence abroad.
Last week, Chinese peacekeeping troops were recognized by the United Nations for one of their missions in Africa.
And their peacekeeping missions on the continent and elsewhere are expected to develop further in the future.
Nearly 400 Chinese soldiers stood at attention at a United Nations camp in Mali this month to receive a special honor.
“The Peace Medal of Honor represents the highest accolade to our peacekeeping efforts,” Sgt. Han Luo of the Fifth Chinese Peacekeeping Force to Mali said.
The medal recognizes contributions to human peace by U.N. peacekeeping forces.
“The dedication, the motivation and the discipline is the key for all the effective and successful work they have done so far,” ATM Anisuzzaman of the MINUSMA U.N. Peacekeeping Mission said.
This is the fifth Chinese peacekeeping force to Mali which has been battling Islamist extremists in the north. It’s been in the country since 2013.
China is one of the largest contributors of U.N. peacekeeping troops in Africa. Last July, Chinese troops began a mission in Djibouti to help in humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts in Africa and West Asia.
“The establishment of the base will help Chinese vessels’ escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and Somalia, and international obligations such as humanitarian rescue missions. It also stimulates the social and economic development of Djibouti,” said Geng Shuang, Spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Beijing emphasized it as a support facility to help establish security in the region.
“It helps China to continue to make even greater contributions to the peace and stability of Africa and the rest of the world,” said Geng Shuang.
In 2015, President Xi Jinping announced China would set up a permanent U.N. peacekeeping force of 8-thousand troops and provide $100 million to the African Union.
“Africa has the biggest peacekeeping needs. In the long run, the international community and the U.N. should support African countries in increasing their own capacity in keeping peace and stability so that African issues can be addressed in an African way,” said Xi.
For years, Chinese troops have also contributed to anti-piracy efforts off the coast of Somalia and sent military medical teams to nations battling the Ebola virus.
Beyond the African continent, China also has troops in Lebanon trying to keep the peace on the border with Israel.
According to the People’s Liberation Army, as of last year, about 36-thousand Chinese have served in U.N. peacekeeping missions over nearly 30 years.