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Chinese troops ready for UN peace mission
( 2003-11-20 08:52) (Xinhua)

A military company of over 240 Chinese soldiers is now well prepared to carry out peacekeeping missions in the war-torn West African nation of Liberia and is waiting for departure orders from the United Nations.

According to the General Logistics Department of the People's Liberation Army of China, the company will be responsible for transportation tasks for other peacekeeping troops near the Liberian capital of Monrovia.

The mission is at the request of the United Nations and has been approved by the Chinese government and the Central Military Commission. A transportation regiment of the PLA is responsible for the selection of officers and soldiers.

"The company will reside near Monrovia." said Wang Huijun, a senior colonel with the General Logistics Department of the PLA.

"As peace keepers, we are asked never to fire the first shot, but safety is our first principle," said Wang.

"They will have bullet-proof vests, steel helmets, gas masks, sterilizing trucks, and modern monitoring and night vision equipment," he said.

In the past year, the company has received intensive training in shooting, field survival, land mine removal and first aid.

The company was established on Dec. 30, 2002 and its members were selected from over 700 volunteer candidates.

To date, it has passed all exams set by senior army units and met all UN requirements regarding their peace keeping missions.

"The training was divided into three stages according to difficulty. The soldiers have mastered all necessary skills and tactics. They were trained very strictly," said Wang. "I believe they are able to complete their missions."

Shen Gangfeng, commander of the company, said more than 12 mental training courses had greatly lifted abilities.

"The company members have five years of driving experience on average and the most experienced soldiers have driven for 21 years. Both their physiques and skills are sound."

As required, officers of the company are now able to carry out daily conversations and reports in English and squad heads and sergeants are able to communicate in English.

"The company will carry with them dry mushrooms, vinegar and other condiments for three months' use, and our kitchen trucks will provide them well-cooked Chinese dishes," said Zhang Xiaoguang, another senior officer.

Satellite sets, laptops, DVD players, and books are also on the company's list, according to the General Logistics Department.

China joined the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations in September 1988 and sent its first "blue-helmet" company to Cambodia in 1992.

As a major participant in UN missions, China sent in April this year a 175-member engineering company and a 43-member medical company to carry out UN peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

China will also send a medical company and an engineering company to Liberia in the future, said military sources.

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