China: February 12, 2003

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China is sending some 200 troops (engineers and medical personnel) to join the Congo peacekeeping force. China has also offered peacekeeping personnel as part of a deal to keep Saddam Hussein in power. China's interests here are largely economic. China has been doing some lucrative trade (not all of it legal) with Iraq over the past few years. If Saddam is overthrown, Chinese firms might not be welcome again for a while. Congo is a source of more lucrative business deals. The Chinese are not as sensitive about bribery and shady deals as many Western firms, so peacekeepers are seen as a first step towards more commercial opportunities. 

China first got involved in peacekeeping when they sent a few hundred troops to Cambodia in 1992-94. Since then, some  1400 Chinese peacekeepers have served in  Iraq and Kuwait, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. China has trained some 600 troops just for peacekeeping missions. These include an engineering battalion (535 troops), a medical platoon (35 personnel) and two transportation companies (80 troops each). The peacekeeping troops are given language training for where they are going, as well instruction on the local customs. Since these troops are basically peacekeeping specialists, they are probably trained in information gathering.

 

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