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Peacekeeping Force Sets Out for Congo
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The third Chinese peacekeeping force left Beijing on Friday for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to replace a second batch which has been carrying out the UN mission there since last December, official sources said on Friday.

The Chinese Blue Helmet troops, made up of 100 personnel including a sapper company and a medical team, flew to the DRC.

All have received training in light arms, field survival, driving and fitness before leaving for the African nation, and have to pass strict examinations to make sure they are capable of the work.

"We will complete our peacekeeping mission with the experiences gained from the first two batches," Qin Bokai, a 46-year old lieutenant colonel, told Xinhua News Agency.

The first Chinese contingent with a sapper company of 175 members and a medical team of 43 was sent to the DRC last April.

China has so far also had 550 troops on a UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia.

Chinese officials said that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has always supported the UN's peacekeeping operations and its efforts to settle conflicts in Africa, and has actively participated in peacekeeping operations in the region.

China decided to designate non-combat troops to join the UN on-call system in January 2002. By now an engineer battalion, a medical team and a transport team have so far joined the UN's on-call force, according to Xinhua.

According to data released by the Ministry of National Defence, 1,450 Chinese servicemen, including 650 military observers and 800 engineers, have participated in such operations in ten regions since 1990. Four servicemen died in these operations. Currently, 53 Chinese military observers are in operations in six regions.

(China Daily August 21, 2004)

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