Home | News    Friday 26 December 2014

China sends peacekeepers to S. Sudan as rebels express caution

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December 25, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA/JUBA) – Chinese government will deploy 700-strong force to the war-affected South Sudan in the next two weeks as part of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) per a request from the UN peacekeeping department.

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A Chinese soldier from an engineering unit practice at an army camp in Qinyang, Henan province September 15, 2007 (Reuters)

In accordance with the approval of the Chinese Central Military Commission and Chairman Xi Jin Ping, China’s first branch of peacekeeping combat infantry battalion is expected to arrive in early January 2015.

This will be the first dispatch of a Chinese international peacekeeping combat infantry battalion, Chinese officials said.

According to the expedition command, Wang Zhen, an advance force of 180 troops will carry necessary supplies to carry out pre-deployment to South Sudan by air, with follow-on forces to be arriving in succession by sea and air in March 2015.

“The size of the infantry battalion is 700, including 121 officers and 579 soldiers to the army, a motorised infantry brigade of 26 Army based, and pumping group of a division of the Army’s 54th Army "Red-day" and "Liu Lao Zhuang Company," the statement says.

Among them, 43 people have peacekeeping experience, 437 people from advanced company, 131 people had been awarded a third class reward, with 13 women combat infantry squad going for the first time in peacekeeping mission.

Zhen who introduced the infantry battalion for the completion of this task, said the forces focused on "common subjects for all qualified, professional training for all specialisations, mission capability of all standards."

He also revealed that in accordance with the standard request by the United Nations, the forces will possess the “drones, infantry fighting vehicles, armoured personnel carriers, anti-tank rockets, mortars, light machine guns, body armour, helmets and other kinds of weapons and equipment.”

“These weapons and equipment [will be] used exclusively for self-defence,” the statement explained.

MISSION TASK

On 19 July, the United Nations for the first time formally invited China to send a peacekeeping battalion infantry troops under UNMISS mandate, with the main task to “protect civilians, UN personnel and facilities, protection of humanitarian relief operations and support IGAD supervision verification and other tasks in the future as needed.”

Earlier, Chinese peacekeeping troops internationally used to strict their role to engineering corps units, transport units, medical units and guard units.

The dispatch of the entire establishment of an infantry combat battalion to South Sudan will be the first time in China’s peacekeeping history.

China has economic interest in the young nation being the biggest oil dealer in South Sudan.

Observers however say Chinese government might be eying the protection of the oilfields, which the rebels declared strategic target. Beijing also is seemingly encouraged by proposal from the IGAD mediators to deploy regional troops to defend the oilfields and other vital installations.

SPLM-IO REACTS

The rebel faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) led by the former vice-president, Riek Machar, welcomed the Chinese troops deployment under UNMISS’ strict mandate and command, which is mainly for protection of civilians.

The opposition faction’s chairman for external relations, Dhieu Mathok, said they would have however expected China to consult with the SPLM-IO prior to a deployment.

“SPLM/SPLA welcomes participation of the Chinese battalion as part of UN peacekeeping forces in South Sudan. However, the Movement urges China and any other country that wants to deploy its troops in the oilfield to first seek the consent of the SPLM/SPLA before taking further steps,” Mathok cautioned on Thursday.

Earlier, the SPLM-IO expressed rejection to any attempt to deploy regional troops in South Sudan, saying it would amount to invasion and colonisation and vowed to defend the territorial integrity of the nation.

Mathok urged the Chinese government to commit itself to a genuine peace process that would treat the warring parties equally.

The rebel chief for external relations also recalled that China had been supporting “SPLM-Juba” faction or president Salva Kiir’s government by providing “weapons, training, financial assistance and technical support on the military aspects.”

In August, Mathok led a high level delegation of the rebel faction to Beijing and held bilateral talks with the Chinese government in protest of military support to Juba.

This came after it was revealed China sold weapons to South Sudan in which consignments of different types of weaponry worth $38 million were ferried through the Kenyan coastal port of Mombasa.

The bilateral talks, which was the first time in history for China to directly deal with non-state actors, tackled many issues in which Beijing agreed to stop weapons sale to Juba.

Mathok reiterated the commitment by the rebel group to cooperate with the Chinese government and called on the communist republic to reciprocate.

“The SPLM/SPLA commits itself to a genuine dialogue that could promote friendly relationship and tranquillity between the Movement and the Chinese Government,” he stressed, further urging Beijing to “commit itself to a genuine peace process that treats the warring parties equally.”

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 26 December 2014 08:51, by chuol

    Well
    Now Salva kiir is doing whatever mean he can simply to remain the head of state.
    He has been selling the country for his own interest putting the future of our children at zero level.
    The aim of the china is to protect the oilfields so that he gets her share.

    repondre message

    • 26 December 2014 09:06, by chuol

      The Chinese are coming to secure the oilfields in the name of protecting the civilians.
      Dr Riek must put in mind that he should not be the Solution of South Sudan alone yearly. He demanded for the Self determination and we are free.
      Dr Riek must this time do the unpatriotic acts like Salva Kiirr for democracy to prevailifSalva Kiir is selling South Sudan to get rid of Children of Nuer he massace

      repondre message

  • 26 December 2014 08:53, by Rommel

    Sudan Tribune is well and truly a mouth-piece for the rebels. Do they actually expect people to believe that rebel delegates were able to convince China [a major power] to stop providing Juba with weapons in one visit? It took another major world power [the United States] to convince China to stop providing weapons to Juba.

    repondre message

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