Congo-Kinshasa: Chinese Soldiers Committed to Peacekeeping Mission in DRC Ahead of Spring Festival

Brazzaville — With the Chinese Spring Festival approaching, Wang Jun, a member of China's peacekeeping sapper unit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), misses more than ever his wife and children at home across the sea.

This year's Spring Festival, or the Lunar New Year, falls on Feb. 16, one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture when the Chinese across the world will return home to stay with their families.

When news came last July that the 21st batch of the Chinese peacekeeping mission to the DRC would be established shortly after, Wang did not sign up for enrollment. He had been carrying out an overseas mission when his wife gave birth to his first child, and he would not miss the chance to be with her this time, as his second baby was due to be born in the autumn.

However, the brigade, after taking prudent consideration, decided to send experienced soldiers to carry out the mission.

Responsibility for the greater good finally won over the longing to stay with his loved ones in a fierce inner battle, and Wang set out for his second adventure to the continent of Africa.

When the baby was born, Wang was away from the military camp performing a task with a contingent of the peacekeeping force. He was not able to contact with his wife and see their baby the first time after her delivery.

After nearly four hours, he completed the mission and returned to the base. As soon as he saw the baby through telephone, the strong man can no long hold back his tears, as the feeling of excitement and regret mixed together at that moment.

"It is not easy to find a person having my experience -- I was in Africa when both of my babies were born," Wang said.

He knows well that peacekeepers are ordinary people who miss home and families, but when it comes to national responsibility, they have to bury their feelings for their families deep in their hearts.

In South Kivu province of the DRC where Wang Jun and the other members of the sapper unit are working, violence is caused by locally armed groups. According to a report of the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, 545,000 people are internally displaced in the province.

The sapper unit of the 21st batch of the Chinese peacekeeping mission to the DRC was deployed to South Kivu in September last year, a turbulent time when armed conflicts frequently occurred.

On Dec. 7, an armed group attacked a UN peacekeeping base in the neighboring North Kivu province, killing 12 UN peacekeepers and five DRC soldiers, and wounding 40 others, the worst attack on UN peacekeeping missions in history.

Despite great risks of armed attacks, disease and hostile climates, Chinese "blue helmets" have been committed to restoring peace and stability, reconstruction and reconciliation in the conflict-torn country.

"Actually we are afraid of armed attacks, but bearing in mind our responsibilities, we are not allowed to step back," said Yang Bin, another solider of the Chinese sapper unit.

China first participated in UN peacekeeping missions in 1990, when five military observers were sent to Damascus, the capital of Syria. Since then, China has dispatched a total of about 35,000 person-times of peacekeeping and military personnel to take part in more than 20 UN missions.

For the past 27 years, China has devoted itself to peacekeeping missions and its contribution has earned applause and respect from the international community.

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