The Diversified Employment of China's Armed Forces
V. Safeguarding World Peace and Regional Stability
China's security and development are closely connected with the peace and prosperity of the world as a whole. China's armed forces have always been a staunch force upholding world peace and regional stability, and will continue to increase cooperation and mutual trust with the armed forces of other countries, participate in regional and international security affairs, and play an active role in international political and security fields.
Participating in UN Peacekeeping Operations
China earnestly fulfills its international responsibilities and obligations, and supports and actively participates in UN peacekeeping missions. In accordance with UN resolutions as well as agreements between the Chinese government and the UN, China dispatches peacekeeping troops and specialized peacekeeping personnel to designated countries or regions, who carry out peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the UN. They are mainly tasked with monitoring ceasefires, disengaging conflicting parties, providing engineering, transportation and medical support, and participating in social reconstruction and humanitarian assistance.
In 1990, the PLA sent five military observers to the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) - the first time China had taken part in UN peacekeeping missions. In 1992, it dispatched an engineering corps of 400 officers and men to the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) - the first time China had sent an organic military unit on a peacekeeping mission. To date, the PLA has dispatched 22,000 military personnel to 23 UN peacekeeping missions. All of them have been awarded the UN peace medals. Three officers and six soldiers have laid down their lives performing such duties and were posthumously awarded the Dag Hammarskjold medal. So far, China is the biggest troop and police contributor among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. It also dispatches the most numbers of troops for engineering, transportation and medical support among all the 115 contributing countries. China pays and contributes the largest share of UN peacekeeping costs among all developing countries.
As of December 2012, a total of 1,842 PLA officers and men are implementing peacekeeping tasks in nine UN mission areas. Among them, 78 are military observers and staff officers, 218 are engineering and medical personnel for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), 558 are engineering, transportation and medical personnel for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), 335 are engineering and medical personnel for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), 338 are engineering and medical personnel for the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) and 315 are engineering personnel for the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).
Tough, brave and devoted, Chinese peacekeepers accomplish all their tasks in an exemplary manner. Over the past 22 years, Chinese peacekeepers have built and repaired over 10,000 km of roads and 284 bridges, cleared over 9,000 mines and various types of unexploded ordnance (UXO), transported over one million tons of cargo across a total distance of 11 million km and treated 120,000 patients. The staff officers and military observers have displayed a high degree of professionalism in their work at the headquarters and in the tasks of patrol, ceasefire monitoring, liaison and negotiation. The Chinese engineering units to the Democratic Republic of the Congo worked day and night to level an area of 16,000 square meters littered with volcanic rocks. The Chinese transportation units to Liberia have worked throughout the country and served as the transportation support center for nearly 50 peacekeeping troops there. Chinese peacekeepers also build roads and bridges, repair vehicles and transport materials for, as well as deliver medical assistance and impart agricultural technology to local people. The Chinese engineering units to Lebanon invented the method of "tilted cross positioning" in minesweeping, which has greatly raised the safety and efficiency of such operations. They can now cover an average of over 500 square meters per day with this method. During the Lebanon-Israel conflict in 2006, over 3,500 unexploded bombs were defused and disposed of. The Chinese engineering units to Darfur, Sudan, dug 13 wells in areas where well digging was deemed impossible. The Chinese engineering units to South Sudan built the first interim training center for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) at a high standard, making a positive contribution to the local peace process.
Chinese peacekeepers strictly abide by the code of personal conduct for UN peacekeepers, rules of engagement and laws of host countries. They respect local religious beliefs and customs, and conscientiously observe the mission regulations and rules for the Chinese peacekeeping troops, thereby winning trust from the local people.
International Disaster Relief and Humanitarian Aid
China's armed forces take an active part in international disaster relief and humanitarian aid operations organized by the government. They provide relief supplies and medical aid, dispatch specialized rescue teams to disaster-stricken countries, provide mine-sweeping assistance and carry out international exchanges of rescue and disaster reduction.
Since 2002 the PLA has undertaken 36 urgent international humanitarian aid missions, and transported relief materials worth more than RMB1.25 billion to 27 disaster-stricken countries. Since 2001, the Chinese International Search and Rescue (CISAR) Team, composed of officers and men from the engineering regiment of the Beijing Military Area Command, medical personnel from the PAPF General Hospital and experts from the China Earthquake Administration, has participated in eight international rescue operations. Since 2010, PLA medical assistance teams have been sent three times to Haiti and Pakistan to carry out international humanitarian medical rescue operations, and the helicopter rescue team of the army aviation has been sent to Pakistan to assist flood-relief operations there.
In March 2011 a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. The CISAR rushed to Japan and participated in the search-and-rescue operations. In July 2011 heavy floods battered Thailand. The PLAAF sent four aircraft to transport to Bangkok more than 90 tons of relief materials provided by China's Ministry of National Defense to the Thai armed forces. In September 2011, when disastrous floods struck Pakistan, the PLAAF dispatched five aircraft to deliver 7,000 tents to Karachi, and the Lanzhou Military Area Command sent a medical-care and epidemic-prevention team to Kunri, the worst-hit area.
China's armed forces actively provide medical care and aid to developing countries, and participate in international medical exchanges and cooperation, thus strengthening friendship and mutual trust with them. From 2010 to 2011, PLAN's hospital ship Peace Ark visited five countries in Asia and Africa and four countries in Latin America to provide "Harmonious Mission" humanitarian medical service. In 193 days the voyage covered 42,000 nautical miles, and nearly 50,000 people received medical services. In recent years, the PLA medical team has also provided medical service to local people in Gabon, Peru and Indonesia while participating in joint humanitarian medical drills.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to the solution of humanitarian problems caused by landmines. It actively supports and participates in international de-mining efforts. Since 1999, the PLA, in collaboration with relevant departments of the PRC government, has provided de-mining assistance to nearly 40 Asian, African and Latin American countries through offering training courses, sending experts to give on-site instruction, and donating de-mining equipment. As a result, the PLA has trained more than 400 mine-clearance personnel for foreign countries, guided the clearance of more than 200,000 square meters of land-mine areas and donated mine-clearance equipment worth RMB 60 million.
Safeguarding the Security of International SLOCs
To fulfill China's international obligations, the Chinese navy carries out regular escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia. It conducts exchanges and cooperation with other escort forces to jointly safeguard the security of the international SLOCs. As of December 2012, Chinese navy task groups have provided protection for four WFP ships and 2,455 foreign ships, accounting for 49% of the total of escorted ships. They helped four foreign ships, recovered four ships released from captivity and saved 20 foreign ships from pursuit by pirates.
Chinese navy escort task forces have maintained smooth communication with other navies in the areas of joint escort, information sharing, coordination and liaison. They have conducted joint escorts with their Russian counterparts, carried out joint anti-piracy drills with naval ships of the ROK, Pakistan and the US, and coordinated with the European Union to protect WFP ships. It has exchanged boarding visits of commanders with task forces from the EU, NATO, the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), the ROK, Japan and Singapore. It has exchanged officers for onboard observations with the navy of the Netherlands. China takes an active part in the conferences of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) and "Shared Awareness and Deconfliction" (SHADE) meetings on international merchant shipping protection.
Since January 2012, independent deployers such as China, India and Japan have strengthened their convoy coordination. They have adjusted their escort schedules on a quarterly basis, optimized available assets, and thereby enhanced escort efficiency. China, as the reference country for the first round of convoy coordination, submitted its escort timetable for the first quarter of 2012 in good time. India and Japan's escort task forces adjusted their convoy arrangements accordingly, thereby formulating a well-scheduled escort timetable. The ROK joined these efforts in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Joint Exercises and Training with Foreign Armed Forces
In adherence to the principles of being non-aligned, non-confrontational, and not directed against any third party, as well as the guidelines of mutual benefit, equality and reciprocity, the PLA has held, together with other countries, bilateral and multilateral exercises and training featuring multiple levels, domains, services and arms. Since 2002, the PLA has held 28 joint exercises and 34 joint training sessions with 31 countries in accordance with relevant agreements or arrangements. This is conducive to promoting mutual trust in the political and military fields, safeguarding regional security and stability, and accelerating the PLA's modernization.
Joint anti-terrorism military exercises within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) have become more institutionalized. To date, China and other SCO member states have conducted nine bilateral and multilateral military exercises. Since 2005, they have carried out a series of "Peace Mission" joint exercises at the campaign level with strategic impact. They were the "Peace Mission-2005" China-Russia joint military exercise, "Peace Mission-2007" joint anti-terrorism military exercise by SCO members, "Peace Mission-2009" China-Russia joint anti-terrorism military exercise, "Peace Mission-2010" joint anti-terrorism military exercise by SCO members and "Peace Mission-2012" joint anti-terrorism military exercise by SCO members. The aforementioned exercises served to warn and deter terrorist, secessionist and extremist forces. The capabilities of the SCO members are constantly being enhanced to jointly deal with new challenges and new threats.
Joint maritime exercises and training are being expanded. In recent years, the Chinese navy has taken part in the "Peace-07," "Peace-09" and "Peace-11" multinational maritime exercises hosted by Pakistan on the Arabian Sea. The PLA and Russian navies held the "Maritime Cooperation-2012" military drill in the Yellow Sea off China's east coast focusing on joint defense of maritime traffic arteries. Chinese and Thai marine corps held the "Blue Strike-2010" and "Blue Strike-2012" joint training exercises. During mutual port calls and other activities, the Chinese navy also carried out bilateral or multilateral maritime exercises and training in such tasks as communications, formation movement, maritime replenishment, cross-deck helicopter landing, firing at surface, underwater and air targets, joint escort, boarding and inspection, joint search and rescue and diving with its counterparts of India, France, the UK, Australia, Thailand, the US, Russia, Japan, New Zealand and Vietnam.
Joint army training is gradually being increased in breadth and depth. Since 2007, the PLAA has conducted a number of joint training sessions with its counterparts of other countries. The PLAA joined the "Hand-in-Hand 2007" and "Hand-in-Hand 2008" joint anti-terrorism training sessions with the Indian army, "Peacekeeping Mission-2009" joint peacekeeping exercise with the Mongolian army, "Cooperation-2009" and "Cooperation-2010" joint security training exercises with Singapore, "Friendship Operation-2009" and "Friendship Operation-2010" joint military training of mountain troops with the Romanian army, and joint SOF unit training with the Turkish army. The PLAA special forces held the "Strike-2007," "Strike-2008" and "Strike-2010" joint anti-terrorism training with their Thai counterparts, "Sharp Knife-2011" and "Sharp Knife-2012" joint anti-terrorism training with their Indonesian counterparts, "Friendship-2010" and "Friendship-2011" joint anti-terrorism training with their Pakistani counterparts, and "Cooperation-2012" joint anti-terrorism training with their Colombian counterparts. In November 2012, joint anti-terrorism training was held with the Jordanian special forces and a joint humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief tabletop exercise with the US army.
Joint air force training is also making progress. The PLAAF contingent held the "Shaheen-1" joint training of operational aerial maneuvers with its Pakistani counterpart in March 2011. China' s airborne commandos and their Venezuelan counterparts held the "Cooperation-2011" urban joint anti-terrorism training in October of the same year. China's airborne troops joined their Belarusian counterparts in the joint training code-named "Divine Eagle-2011" and "Divine Eagle-2012" respectively in July 2011 and November 2012.
Joint training in providing health services is being developed steadily. From 2009 to 2011, PLA medical teams held the "Peace Angel" joint operations for humanitarian medical assistance in Gabon and Peru, and participated in a disaster-relief exercise of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Indonesia. The PLA health service team staged a joint exercise on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief code-named "Cooperation Spirit-2012" with its counterparts of Australia and New Zealand in October 2012.
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