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60 Chinese Peacekeeping Soldiers Leave for War-torn Liberia

Sixty Chinese soldiers left Tuesday for Liberia, becoming the first group of Chinese peacekeeping forces to go to that war-ravaged country.

The Chinese government has decided to send a peacekeeping team of 550 people to Liberia, which will be China's largest participation with the most soldiers in the United Nations peacekeeping missions by far, sources with the Ministry of National Defense said.

The peacekeeping forces will include a 240-person transportation company, a 275-person sapper company and a 35-person hospital. The 60 soldiers belong to the transportation company, sources said.

In January 2002, China formally joined a UN peacekeeping standby mechanism, making preparations to provide engineering, medical and transportation teams for UN peacekeeping missions.

The first group was equipped with 10 special-purpose vehicles, tents and provisions as well as telecommunication and medical facilities, said Shen Gangfeng, lieutenant colonel with the transportation company.

The transportation company will be equipped with 158 vehicles and 20 water-supply trucks, according to sources.

The Chinese peacekeeping forces will shoulder the responsibility of transporting UN peacekeepers and materials, constructing roads, repairing houses and airports, providing water and electricity as well as curing the wounded.

This peacekeeping mission is planned to last for one year, and may be prolonged on the basis of the new situation.

The UN Security Council in September unanimously voted for the deployment of a peacekeeping mission in war-torn Liberia for one year. Currently, 29 countries, including China, the United Sates and Britain, have decided or already sent peacekeeping police to Liberia.

(Xinhua News Agency December 10, 2003)

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