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Keeping the peace in South Lebanon
By H.E.Mr. WANG Kejian, Ambassador of China to Lebanon
2019/09/30

Since being appointed the Ambassador to Lebanon in September 2016, I have visited Chinese peacekeepers over 10 times, and witnessed what they do to keep the peace in South Lebanon.

These peacekeepers are the epitome of China's unswerving support for peacekeeping operations. After all China is the largest contributor of peacekeepers among the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and also the second-largest financier for the fund. In December 2018, the number of Chinese peacekeepers working for the UN, covering seven mission areas and operations, was over 2,500.

This manifests China's fulfillment of its international responsibilities and its goal of building a community with a shared future for humanity.

War-torn Lebanon has been struggling for peace since the 1940s. The Security Council created the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in March 1978.

After the Israeli troops' withdrawal in 2000, the UN established a 121-km Blue Line border demarcation between the two countries to determine whether Israel had fully withdrawn from Lebanon. But military clashes kept breaking out along the line from time to time, including a large-scale one in 2006. That is when blue barrels were erected on the line and patrols set up to clean a large number of mines laid during the war.

Since 2006, the Chinese government has sent 18 batches of peacekeeping forces to Lebanon to engage in mine clearance and explosive ordnance disposal, reconstruction, medical assistance and border patrol. Mine clearance is the most dangerous and difficult work in the Blue Line area, where natural conditions are bad and the atmosphere between the two countries tense.

Every time I visited the Multi-Role Engineering Unit, I saw mines, bombs and shrapnel defused by Chinese military engineers. They told me how they had to tread cautiously, ensuring no two steps were more than five centimeters apart, in accordance with established UN standards.

Driven by the wish for peace in Lebanon, the determined peacekeepers from China are doing their bit to ensure a better life for the Lebanese people. From 2006 to 2019, they have defused over 12,000 mines without any casualties, setting a splendid records for both quantity and speed, while underlining UNIFIL's high efficiency.

China has 410 peacekeepers and nine staff officers at UNIFIL. They are not only braving land mines, explosives, terrorist attacks and diseases for South Lebanon's stability, but also promoting friendship between China and Lebanon. Their military quality and responsibilities during peacekeeping operations have won them UNIFIL's recognition and high praise from Lebanon officials and civilians.

Amid the turmoil in Lebanon, people aspire for peace and stability. But the country is mired in complex internal and external problems. Fortunately, all Lebanese people and factions have arrived at a consensus to safeguard national sovereignty and security and promote the region's economy.

A stable environment is essential for the development of all countries. One of China's missions in the new era is to promote people's livelihood. It is important that China spares no effort to build a new type of international relations, a community with a shared future for humanity, combined with safeguarding international and regional security and multilateralism cored with the UN.

Seeing the blue helmets, I feel inspiration, confidence and power. Our country, China, will continue to make greater contributions to world peace and the progress of humanity.

The author is Chinese ambassador to Lebanon. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

(Published on China Daily Global 09/30/2019 page13)



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