China plans to extend its peacekeeping operations worldwide, said a senior military official today, as the nation completed its first joint peacekeeping military exercise with Mongolia in Beijing.
Lieutenant-General Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, said the six-day drill was the first joint peacekeeping exercise China held with a foreign nation.
Both local and overseas experts said the move showed China's commitment to international obligations as its impact on world stage increases.
In the last two decades China has sent 13,000 troops, military officers and military observers all over the world for peacekeeping missions.
Currently nearly 2,000 Chinese soldiers serve in 14 nations and regions, according to the Ministry of National Defense.
"Both China and Mongolia are active participators in global peacekeeping missions under the UN framework… China is also the nation that sends the largest number of peacekeeping troops under the UN framework among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council," Ma said at a joint press conference with his Mongolian counterpart after the "Peacekeeping Mission 2009" concluded.
The exercise, including 45 soldiers from Mongolia and 46 from China, featured a six-day training and cultural exchanges at a military training base in north Beijing. The drills emulate real scenarios peacekeeping forces encounter during overseas operations.
"We truly respect the levels of equipment and operation skills of the Mongolian forces. The Chinese armed forces have had a good opportunity to exchange peacekeeping experience with the Mongolian side," said Ma.
Senior Colonel Zhang Ping, director of the Chinese team, said the Mongolian soldiers gained rich experience in close-range combat during their extensive overseas operations.
About 2,000 Mongolian troops have been sent in recent years to maintain security in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Sierra Leon.
Captain Davaattseren, director of the Mongolian team, said he respects China's presence in international peacekeeping and praised China's construction and transportation work during overseas missions in less-developed regions.
Mongolia's State Secretary of Ministry of Defense Major-General Borbattar said he hopes more such drills will be held in the future between the two countries.