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Chinese Peacekeepers Leave for Haiti

Nearly 100 Chinese riot police have just left Beijing for Haiti Sunday on a six-month UN peacekeeping mission. They will join another 30-member team which left one month ago.

These young men and women, with an average age of 28, represent China's growing role in UN peacekeeping duties. Bearing the Chinese riot police flag, these soldiers are taking on a tough mission.

Meng Hongwei, Vice Minister of Public Security, said, "They are contributing to world peace. They shoulder the heavy responsibility of maintaining stability in the country."

Since Tropical Storm Jeanne swept through the Caribbean island two months ago, Haitians have been struggling to survive without food, water or shelter. With some of them armed, looting of relief supplies and fighting has broken out.

China's peacekeepers have received three months of training in riot control, peacekeeping methods and other UN-outlined programs. Earlier, at this simple farewell dinner, there were no big words, no grand gestures, just a simple song to show their determination.

"We are the first Chinese riot police on a peacekeeping mission in the country. For the first month, we may have difficulties in finding shelter and food. But still, it is a great honor to be a peacekeeper."

Nearly 300 Chinese peacekeepers have been sent around the world -- in East Timor, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Liberia, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Haiti. It will take more than twenty-four hours for them to reach the destination. But what lies ahead of them when they arrive is much longer and tougher.

(CCTV October 17, 2004)

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