by Xinhua writer Bai Jie
BEIJING, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) - UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said on Thursday that the world body highly appreciated Chinese peacekeepers' brave and committed contribution to missions, pledging closer cooperation with China.
"Chinese peacekeepers are very professional, extremely well-trained and very committed to doing the job," said under-secretary-general Ladsous in an interview with Chinese media before concluding his one-week trip to China Thursday night.
Over the years, there have been at least 20,000 Chinese citizens that have served in UN peacekeeping missions, he said. "Let's not forget 16 of them were killed in the line of duty, which is very sad."
Ladsous said, "To all Chinese peacekeepers, I will first and foremost say thank you. Thank you for your bravery, and for your sense of wanting to help. We are very grateful for that."
This was his first official visit to China since he took office of the UN under-secretary-general in September 2011.
During his stay, Ladsous met with officials from China's foreign and public security ministries as well as officers from the People's Liberation Army.
He also visited the peacekeeping center of China's Defense Ministry in the suburbs of Beijing and attended the opening ceremony of a three-week-long UN military observers training course.
He also visited the China Peacekeeping Civpol Training Center in Langfang City of neighboring Hebei Province and watched anti-riot training sessions.
"It is a good opportunity to thank China for the big contribution it is making to the UN peacekeeping operations," Ladsous said.
In addition, the under-secretary-general traveled to the northeastern city of Harbin to meet with troops that are preparing to be deployed to the UN mission in Mali, which begins later this year.
The mission has 5,201 soldiers on the ground plus a little over 800 police officers with additional contingents due to arrive from Asia, Africa and Latin America, he said.
In the eyes of Ladsous, the 500-strong Chinese contingent to Mali is of great importance, as it is the first time that China's armed forces will dispatch security forces for a peacekeeping mission.
"It is very significant that China is going to be involved in the mission. We hope that China will continue to involve itself because their contribution has been of high-quality," he said.
According to statistics from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, China has so far dispatched more than 20,000 military personnel, police and civil officials for UN peacekeeping missions, which makes it the biggest contributor among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
A total of 1,800 Chinese military personnel and policemen are currently participating in nine out of the 15 UN missions.
"It has been a very fruitful cooperation with China and we want it to continue as much as we can," Ladsous added.