Oil for peace? China to send 700 peacekeepers to S. Sudan, signs energy deal
China has announced it will deploy a 700-strong infantry battalion in South Sudan at the beginning of 2015. It comes as the war-torn African country signed an agreement with Chinese petroleum giant CNPC to boost oil production.
China’s Central Military Commission and President Xi Jinping approved a plan to send an infantry battalion, including 121 officers and 579 soldiers, among them female soldiers, to the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan on Monday, Xinhua reported Monday.
It’s the first time China has sent infantry troops to take part in a UN mission, as previous Chinese peacekeepers were primarily engineers, medical and transportation workers, and security guards. The first 180 troops will fly to South Sudan in January, with the rest going in March to perform patrol and security duties in the capital city, Juba.
The battalion will be equipped with drones, armored infantry carriers, antitank missiles, mortars, light self-defense weapons, bulletproof uniforms and helmets, among other weapons "completely for self-defense purpose," commander Wang Zhen said, Xinhua reported.
The deployment comes as CNPC has signed an agreement with oil-rich South Sudan to “stabilize and increase crude output” in the three blocks in the northeastern African country, officials said Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported.