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International peacekeeping exercise fosters cooperation among neighbors

Armored vehicles to be used in the Shared Destiny 2021 multinational peacekeeping exercise stand ready during its opening ceremony in Henan province on Monday. (LIU FANG / XINHUA)

The Shared Destiny 2021 multinational peacekeeping exercise started at a military training base in Henan province on Monday, the Chinese military's headquarters at the exercise said.

Troops from four nations-China, Mongolia, Pakistan and Thailand-took part in an opening ceremony on Monday morning at the People's Liberation Army Ground Force's Queshan Combined Tactical Training Base and then moved to multiple training ranges to conduct drills, the headquarters said in a statement.

It said the 10-day exercise is the first multinational peacekeeping exercise held by the Chinese military and is focused on joint operations by peacekeepers from several nations.

A response to the United Nations' Action for Peacekeeping initiative, it is intended to foster practical cooperation among countries that contribute peacekeepers and improve the skills of standby peacekeeping units, the headquarters said.

In addition, the PLA wants to take advantage of the occasion to demonstrate and test the capability of its standby peacekeeping force, it said.

Commanding officers from the four countries have established a joint command and will use the UN's standard peacekeeping procedures and engagement rules.

Troops will engage in field reconnaissance, patrols, armed escorts, the protection of civilians, suppression of terrorists, construction of temporary infrastructure, medical aid and the handling of infectious diseases.

The multinational peacekeeping exercise, Shared Destiny-2021, begins at a military training base in Central China's Henan province on Sept 6, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

The Chinese headquarters said the exercise will involve infantry soldiers, aviation squads, engineers and transport and medical personnel, and will use armored assault vehicles, helicopters and unmanned aircraft.

The PLA will provide all the hardware involved in the operation, it said.

Lieutenant Colonel Zhang Yiming, deputy head of training at the headquarters, told China Central Television on Monday that all the Chinese soldiers in the exercise were selected from the PLA's standby peacekeeping units.

"We regard the exercise as an opportunity for the soldiers to prepare themselves for actual peacekeeping tasks and ask them to use the best of their skills during it," he said.

China is an active player when it comes to international peacekeeping missions.

Over the past three decades, the Chinese military has sent more than 40,000 peacekeepers to 25 UN missions around the world, making it the largest troop-contributing country among all permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Since 2015, the PLA has established an 8,000-strong standby peacekeeping force and trained more than 1,500 peacekeepers for over 60 countries.

In the future, the Chinese military will contribute more manpower and resources to UN peacekeeping missions, support UN reforms to improve peacekeeping effectiveness and enhance global cooperation to jointly build lasting peace and prosperity around the world, PLA officers have said.