Soldier in Xinjiang brings devotion, combat skills to armed police force

By Mao Weihua in Urumqi and Cui Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2023-09-06 08:54
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Cheng Lin draws on experiences to better prepare troops for fight against terrorists

Cheng Lin (middle) and four fellow members of a special operations detachment of the People's Armed Police Force based in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region return from a training exercise. CHINA DAILY

After many years of undergoing strict training and gaining experience from real combat, Cheng Lin, a member of a special operations detachment of the People's Armed Police Force based in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, has become the backbone of the group, specializing in tough missions, including counterterrorism.

Cheng has participated in more than 10 major counterterrorist missions in the region, the nation's key area in the fight against terrorism. He said his goal is to ensure that the troops are always ready when they are needed.

The 39-year-old, who is now the deputy chief of staff of the detachment, hasn't missed a day of training since he joined the force in Xinjiang about 22 years ago. His combat and tactical skills have helped him become an elite counterterrorism officer and earned him tremendous respect from his troops.

"I am always passionate and serious about training. Only when the soldiers aren't afraid of shedding blood during training can they survive real combat," he said.

A member of Cheng's detachment receives instructions during boxing training. CHINA DAILY

There are 11 scars on Cheng's body. He sees them as badges of honor because they were all obtained in combat or during the armed force's competitions.

He vividly remembers how he got his first scar after being attacked by a suspected terrorist during a mission in 2009.

When a suspicious man was stopped and questioned at a checkpoint, the suspect suddenly pulled out a long knife with a sharp blade and charged toward Cheng.

The blade hit his helmet, and Cheng immediately used his left arm to block the next blow. He then grabbed the man's right wrist and punched him in the jaw. The man was knocked out and apprehended.

The attack left a long scar on Cheng's left arm.

"It all happened so quickly. There was no time to feel the pain," said Cheng, adding that he has experienced many similar life-and-death moments during real combat.

During a mission to search for suspected terrorists, Cheng was attacked by a man hiding in a courtyard. When the man tried to stab Cheng with a knife, Cheng dodged the attack, but the knife left a deep cut on his left leg. The man tried again. Cheng then managed to block the knife with a baton, and the man was apprehended.

Cheng tends tomatoes in a greenhouse of the detachment in Xinjiang. CHINA DAILY

While handling suspected terrorists, Cheng is also determined to protect the public.

During a major counterterrorism mission, Cheng received a report saying that five suspects had flung several ignited bottles of gasoline into a residential area. Many shops and vehicles were on fire, and there were also many gas-filled containers near the blazes that could have exploded at any time.

"We knew it was a dangerous situation, but we needed to find and remove all the gas containers to ensure public safety at all costs," Cheng said.

In 2019, he decided to join the current detachment stationed on a plateau with an average altitude of more than 3,000 meters. He was determined to pioneer new training methods and combat tactics to better prepare the troops for missions.

"We need to continue to improve our skills for real combat to overpower our enemies. I believe that training without intensity and pressure is pointless," he added.

Sun Tongzhan, a member of the detachment, said Cheng always takes the lead in training and has set a good example for the troops.

"He is very strict about training and always tries to make improvements to prepare us for real combat," Sun said.

Based on his combat experience, Cheng has developed more than 10 new tactics over the years to help the troops, including how to better react when attacked from both sides, and how to break out of encirclement and seek cover when vehicles are damaged.

Cheng said no matter how his role has changed over the years, his goal to be a good soldier in the armed police force has never changed.

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