Wednesday, July 3, 2013

China to Send Combat Troops to Mali

China currently has about 1,500 non-combat troops assigned to six UN peacekeeping operations in Africa. Wang Yi, China's foreign minister, announced on 26 June 2013 that China will send about 500 People's Liberation Army (PLA) combat troops to the new UN peacekeeping operation in Mali. This will be the first time that China has contributed combat troops to a UN peacekeeping operation.

Chinese army. Flickr/juanchb
In the past, the PLA forces assigned to UN missions have been engineers, medical personnel, transport experts, etc. This marks an important change in China's policy towards UN peacekeeping operations.

I wrote a piece published on 21 June 2013 for China-US Focus titled "China's Response to the Islamist Threat in Mali" that said China had agreed to assign PLA forces to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali and that for the first time they might include combat troops.

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