Overcome “Underground Devil” hiding in the dark
Mine is the evil spirit that takes human lives. According to incomplete statistics, there are more than 110 million landmines deployed in more than 70 countries around the world, and every year more than 20,000 people are injured / killed by landmines. Some landmines are remnants of the World War II. Many of the mine sites are not known clearly, which poses an invisible lethal threat. Some people said that it is underground landmines rather than collapsed houses and ruined bridges that constitute the war scars which are hardest to erase.
Mine is still an obstacle to Cambodia’s national development. Over the past 40 years, landmines have wounded / killed more than 50,000 Cambodian people, with more than 30 cases in 2018. I read an article about a family of three members living in the suburbs of Phnom Penh. The husband gets up every day at 4am and starts running 8 kilometers. When the sun shines on the earth, he takes off the fiberglass artificial leg to put on the rubber artificial leg, and starts his new day. His wife also lost her right leg more than 10 years ago when she stepped on a landmine during mining. Every time I hear about a mine accident, this story always comes to my mind, and I feel so sad for the miseries of those families.
Encouragingly, the Cambodian government has made significant progress. Since 1992, Cambodia has made mine clearance high on its agenda and made significant progress. Since 1992, Cambodia has found and destroyed 3.8 million landmines as well as unexploded ordnance, with the number of landmine victims decreasing year by year, and large areas of polluted land cleared and given to the people, which laid the foundation for the post-war restoration and economic development of Cambodia. According to the “2018-2025 strategic plan of mine clearance”, Cambodia will complete the mine clearance work by 2025. This clearly demonstrates the commitment of the Cambodian government to mine clearance and the guiding principles with security and welfare of the people as its priority.
China’s mine clearance action “Starts Again”
Chinese people always adhere to an ancient philosophy, “When in distress, we need to develop ourselves. When in success, we must bring benefits to the world”. Helping each other is a Chinese traditional virtue. China was also affected by mines. The border areas of Yunnan and Guangxi provinces once had many landmines and explosives. In order to develop the border areas and to improve people’s livelihood, since the 1990s, China has carried out three large-scale mine clearance activities, and currently the mine danger has been almost cleared. These mine clearance activities have helped China to accumulate experience in mine clearance, and attested to the safety, reliability and practicability of China’s mine clearance technology and equipment.
To assist other countries suffering from landmines, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a series of significant measures to support and strengthen the UN peacekeeping action at the UN peacekeeping summit in 2015, including 10 mine clearance assistance programs in five years. As a matter of fact, before President Xi’s announcement, China had always actively participated in international cooperation in humanitarian mine clearance, and provided assistance to those developing countries which lack the capability to solve their serious mine problems, helping them to achieve sustainable development. Since 1998, China has been providing humanitarian assistance in mine clearance every year through organizing technical training, sending experts for on-site guidance, providing equipment, etc. Statistics show that up to present, China has trained nearly 1,000 experts in mine clearance for more than 40 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, including Cambodia.
Creating a new era of cooperation between China and Cambodia in the field of mine clearance
As a good brother and good partner, Cambodia is a priority partner of China’s mine clearance aid and cooperation. Mine clearance cooperation between China and Cambodia is an important part of the two countries’ comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation, and an important task for me as the Chinese Ambassador. With attention of leaders of the two countries, both sides have deepened cooperation in mine clearance in recent years. The Chinese government, military, and civil societies have continued to strengthen the support to Cambodia and assist the Cambodian government in saving people’s lives and developing national economy through organizing training programs, providing mine clearance equipment and humanitarian aid, etc. The Chinese government would continue to provide selfless and honest assistance for Cambodia, and share with Cambodia technologies and experience in mine clearance without reservation. It is not only a reflection of the commitment of China to safeguard world peace and develop humanitrianism, but also a testimony of the China-Cambodia friendship.
In 2019, the Chinese Government will provide Cambodia with 5 million RMB worth of mine clearance equipment and humanitarian supplies, and train another 40 experts for Cambodia to carry out mine clearance and humanitarian aid. This is not only an important measure to implement the consensus of the two countries’ leaders, but also a solemn commitment by China to help Cambodia to eliminate mine threat, save lives, and rebuild homes for the people.
As the Chinese old saying goes, “When brothers are of the same mind, they have the power to cut through metal”. Although China is also a developing country without much financial capacity, we are willing to contribute to the lofty cause and task of our good brother. I believe, under the joint efforts of China and Cambodia, sad stories of mine accidents should never happen again in the near future, and the bilateral relationship and the community with shared future between China and Cambodia would surely move forward steadily.
By H.E. Mr. Wang Wentian, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Cambodia