Lt. Colonel Du Zhaoyu, the Chinese UN observer, who was killed in action (KIA) last month during an Israeli air raid in Lebanon, was posthumously awarded a first-class honor medal in Beijing on Tuesday.
Du, 34, was sent to Lebanon last December as a UN observer, and sadly became the eighth Chinese military casualty in UN peacekeeping missions since 1988. Du's remains were cremated at Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing earlier this month.
"Du's short life was devoted to the Party, the country, the Chinese people, and the modernization of the nation's defense," said Liang Guanglie, PLA chief of staff, at the award ceremony.
Noting that Du's heroism reflected the self-sacrificing spirit of a soldier, and showed the world the Chinese embraced peace, Liang also called on the military to learn from Du and to fulfill the tasks set by the Communist Party of China.
180 military officers and engineers have been dispatched to southern Lebanon, as part of the UN peacekeeping mission.
China sent its first UN observer to the Middle East in 1990, organized its first UN peacekeeping force in 1992, sending it to Cambodia, and has also sent peacekeepers to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia.
As the largest contributor to peacekeeping forces among the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council, China's forces have performed over 5,000 tours of duty for the UN. Currently, 1,489 Chinese peacekeepers are stationed across nine UN mission regions.
(Xinhua News Agency August 30, 2006)