China Approves New Darfur Force

According to the official Xinhua news service, China is sending a new deployment of 315 military engineers to Darfur.

With a third group of Chinese peacekeepers sent to Sudan to replace their predecessors, China has sent more than 10,000 peacekeepers to participate in 18 UN peace-keeping missions.

At the request of the United Nations and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, China decided to participate in a hybrid force of the United Nations and the African Union.

China promised to send a 315-member engineering unit to Darfur. So far, the first group of 143 engineers has been dispatched to Darfur, where it is at work.

I’m not entirely sure how Xinhua came up with the claim that China has sent “10,000 peacekeepers to participate in 18 UN peace-keeping missions” as China is only the 13th largest (pdf) troop contributor with nearly 2000 military and police in the field. Still, China’s stepped up participation in the Darfur – African Union mission is certainly welcome. Welcome too would be Beijing using its diplomatic suasion with Khartoum to help lift restrictions on the Darfur mission.

Meanwhile, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations announced a French successor to Jean-Marie Guehenno, the very capable Undersecretary General who headed peacekeeping operations since 2000. Alain Le Roy, who cut his teeth in the Balkans, will succeed Guehenno.