Peacekeepers prepare for Kosovo mission
By Huang Zhiling
Updated: 2008-01-08 07:10

CHENGDU: A team of 18 police officers from Sichuan Province will fly to Kosovo next month to take part in a yearlong United Nations peacekeeping mission, officials have said.

Zeng Gang, an information officer with the provincial public security department, said it is the first time the Ministry of Public Security has entrusted a local security department to select officers for such a mission.

On December 21, the ministry asked the department to select 18 officers for the mission in line with the requirements of the United Nations.

The team will be selected from a group of 39 candidates who arrived yesterday for an 11-day training course at the Sichuan Police Academy in Luzhou, 290 km from Chengdu, the provincial capital.

Chen Zheng, assistant to the academy's president, said the officers, who come from across the province, are all highly skilled in shooting and driving and are proficient in English.

The training course will comprise a range of physical and mental exercises, including shooting practice, English-language tests, drills dealing with the capture and handling of prisoners and briefing sessions on the current situation in Kosovo.

It will conclude with an examination to determine the final 18, Chen said.

The team will then undergo three weeks' intensive training with the Ministry of Public Security before leaving for Kosovo, Zhao Jian, deputy chief of the Sichuan provincial department of public security, said.

According to figures from the ministry, of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China ranks second only to the US in terms of the number of officers it has sent to take part in peacekeeping operations.

More than 1,000 police officers have worked under the UN flag since the first Chinese team was dispatched in 2000, the ministry said.

Guo Baoshan, an official with the ministry's international cooperation department, said that officers from every province, municipality and autonomous region in the country have taken part in UN peacekeeping missions.

(China Daily 01/08/2008 page3)