This is a first: China is deploying 700 troops to South Sudan, as part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission in the young, chronically conflict-torn country. None of the Chinese infantry battalion has arrived yet, U.N. spokesman Joe Contreras said Wednesday, but they are expected to arrive in the new few days. U.N. officials say that this is the first time China has contributed soldiers to a peacekeeping mission, though a "protection unit" of about 350 military personnel (most engineers) is already in South Sudan.
The U.N. peacekeepers are authorized to employ "all necessary means" to protect civilians and oil installations. China's state-run China National Petroleum Corporation has a 40 percent stake in a South Sudan oil field project, and the country provide up to 5 percent of China's oil imports.