The Chinese Ministry of Defense has announced that 8,000 troops have been made operation-ready for immediate deployment on overseas United Nations peacekeeping missions over the last two months.
The speed is being touted as evidence of war-readiness on the part of China’s military, as “UN peacekeeping missions are the most war-like scenario that a soldier can expect during peace time,” according to one Chinese military observer.
Ouyang Wei, a professor at China’s National Defense University, told the People’s Daily that the drawing up of 8,000 troops showed the military’s marked progress in mobilization, logistics and quick-response capabilities.
“All the troops are elites recruited across the nation and they expect to get their hands dirty, through trials and tribulations, in a test of their resolve and combat tactics, in keeping peace in some of the world’s most volatile regions,” he said.
The new Chinese peacekeepers are from four categories: infantry battalions, engineering corps, helicopter corps, and contingents responsible for logistics, quick response and security.
A total of 28 units, including six infantry battalions, three engineering companies, two logistics companies, four medical units, two helicopter squads, one drone squad and one marine unit, will be deployed as Beijing assumes a bigger role in UN affairs.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy and Air Force will also be involved, although at present the bulk of the solders are from the ground force. Asked if the PLA was aiming to test its capabilities on foreign soil, Ouyang stressed that they were being deployed in the UN’s networks.
A PLA base in the eastern African country of Djibouti has been up and running since August. Aimed at assisting China’s peacekeeping troops in South Sudan, Congo and Mali, and serving as a transit point for Chinese warships and commercial vessels in the UN-led clampdown on piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters, it is the Chinese military’s first overseas outpost.