China has sent 1,032 peacekeepers military troops made up of medics, engineers and infantrymen to South Sudan; the World’s youngest state that started off on a very rough path of ethnic-fueled violence, civil war and political instability.
China has over the years grown to become Africa leading trading partner. Much to the dislikes of many Western countries, who have faulted China to be all ‘business-as-usual’ with no interest in addressing human rights abuse, war, and political instability among other concerns in the African countries it is trading with.
China has been perceived to be more interested in making deals than any other thing, with critics arguing all deals made favor the Asian economic giant than the given African countries. Well, that perception might be watered down a bit, as blue-helmeted peacekeepers from China began joining the UN peacekeeping mission in war-torn South Sudan in their hundreds.
This mission will also be China’s first ever external peacekeeping operations. It is no secret that South Sudan has quite an amount of oil reserves that China as an industrial powerhouse would be interested in to fuel its economic growth.
The BBC got access to the battalion’s base in the capital Juba for an exclusive interview. It is important to note China has historically been very hesitant about being featured in Western media houses, so the news channel had to sweat to get access the battalion’s base.
According to the BBC, Chinese battalion keeps a low profile in Juba, except for the imposing gate securing the battalion’s base. The gate is adorned with blue Chinese character and is some 30ft tall. Within the compound, are Chinese military service men who the BBC says are probably on their first mission outside China. BBC writes the following about the Chinese military service men experience in Africa:
“Most have left behind families who like many others, still consider Africa the ‘dark continent’ of a Joseph Conrad novel.
‘My family can’t understand how people holiday in Africa’ one of them confided.”
You can read more on this on the BBC website.