China's 175-member engineering brigade and 43-member medical team are now on 24-hour-call for their United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
"All preparations have been made. We're now waiting for notice from UN," said Dai Shao'an, deputy director of Office of Peacekeeping Affairs under the Ministry of National Defense.
Dai did not give out the Chinese peacekeepers' exact departure time, but he said that it would be "very soon."
The Chinese peacekeepers will concentrate on helping rebuild the war-shattered country, providing medical aid and building airports, roads and other infrastructure projects, according to Dai.
Since it first sent military observers to UN peacekeeping activities in 1990, the People's Liberation Army has taken part in 10 UN peacekeeping operations.
So far it has sent more than 650 military observers, liaison officers, advisers or staff officers and 800 engineering officers and soldiers to UN peacekeeping operations, said a source at the Ministry of National Defense.
Four Chinese servicemen have lost their lives, and dozens have been wounded in UN peacekeeping operations.
Currently, 53 Chinese military observers are serving in six regions, and two staff officers are working at the UN peacekeeping department.
Dai said that, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has always valued and supported the UN in its efforts to play a positive role in safeguarding international peace and security under the guidance of the purpose and principles of the UN Charter.
He stressed the leading role of UN Security Council in peacekeeping, noting that when carrying out peacekeeping missions, the principles of UN charter should be continuously observed.
China maintains that peacekeeping is an important means, but not the only way to resolve conflicts, Dai said.
"Attention should be paid to the elimination of the roots of conflicts and seeking a comprehensive settlement to the problems," Dai said.
When taking part in peacekeeping operations, China strictly adheres to the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of the host country and does not involve itself in any conflicts there.
"We should ensure that our deployment is welcomed by local people," Dai said.
China has always played an active role in peacekeeping operations, and this has been praised by both the UN and host countries alike.
On a visit to China late last year, UN Under-Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guehenno praised Chinese peacekeeping personnel for their self-motivation, self-discipline and specialized training.
Last January, China formally participated in the Class-A standby arrangements mechanism for UN peacekeeping operations, and it is ready to provide UN peacekeeping operations with engineering, medical, transportation and other logistical support teams at appropriate times.
"If the UN and host regions' people make further requests, we will also actively take other operations into consideration," Dai said, noting the key point is that all these efforts should benefit regional peace and stability.
(China Daily January 25, 2003)