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China opposes threat against its peacekeepers in Darfur
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China on Wednesday said it could not tolerate criticism from any party for its participation in peacekeeping missions in the Darfur region of Sudan, and opposes any public threat made against the security of its peacekeepers there.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang made the remarks on Wednesday morning when asked to comment on the threat from the Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement(JEM), an anti-government armed force, to take action against Chinese peacekeeping forces if China does not withdraw its peacekeeping personnel from the country.

In April, China agreed to send a multi-functional engineering unit to Darfur at the request of the United Nations. The first such unit was set up on June 13 consisting of 315 people.

A 135-strong advance troop of the Chinese engineering unit arrived in the South Darfur State capital of Niyala last week.

It is reported that the JEM declared it does not welcome nor allow the Chinese peacekeeping unit to enter areas under its control, ordered immediate withdrawal of the unit and threatened to take actions if China fails to do so.

Qin said China decided to send a 315-strong multi-functional engineering unit to Darfur at the invitation of the U.N. and the unit is gradually being deployed at the request of the U.N..

The engineering unit will mainly engage in missions including building roads, bridges, and digging wells in addition to some other projects in preparation for the deployment of U.N.-A.U. (African Union) hybrid-mission peacekeepers from other countries.

China will continue to make unremitting efforts to promote the peace process in Darfur, Qin added.

Qin stressed that China's participation in peacekeeping in Darfur reflected China's constructive role in pushing forward a proper settlement of the Darfur issue, and was conducive to local peace, stability, restoration and improvement of local people's livelihood, and was welcomed by the whole international community.

"China finds it hard to understand and will not tolerate criticism of its participation in peacekeeping in Darfur, let alone any public threatening of the security of its peacekeepers," Qin noted.

The security of U.N. peacekeepers, including Chinese peacekeepers, must be guaranteed, Qin said.

China hoped those anti-government armed forces in Darfur who had not yet signed the Darfur Peace Agreement should join the peace process and take concrete actions to realize local peace, stability and development as early as possible.

China's engineering unit is the first batch of the U.N. peacekeepers arriving in the region to implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 1769 adopted on July 31, which authorizes the deployment of a 26,000- strong, hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur.

(Xinhua News Agency November 28, 2007)

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