China sends another 120 army peacekeepers to South Sudan
BEIJING (AP) The first 120 troops of a 700-member Chinese UN peacekeeping force have departed for South Sudan, deepening China's commitment to the troubled East African nation, where two of its peacekeepers were killed in fighting over the summer.
The new troops, who departed on Sunday, are part of the third Chinese battalion to be sent to South Sudan to protect civilians, UN staff and humanitarian workers, and to conduct patrols and provide security escorts.
South Sudan has seen continuous fighting since its civil war broke out in December 2013. The more than 12,000 UN peacekeepers already in the country have been criticised for failing to protect civilians. China was an early investor in the new state's energy sector, but fighting and corruption have largely prevented it from reaping any benefits.
In July, two Chinese peacekeepers died and five others were wounded after their vehicle was struck with a rocket-propelled grenade as fighting swept the capital, Juba.
China has maximised publicity of its contribution to UN peacekeeping as part of its push to raise its international profile. China is now the biggest contributor of peacekeepers among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, with 2,639 currently deployed on six missions, mostly assigned to medical, engineering and transport duties. Yet in actual terms, that still leaves China ranked 12th overall among nations that have contributed peacekeepers, led by Ethiopia, India and Pakistan.