Aug 1, 2020 is the 93rd anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army(PLA). Over the past 93 years, The PLA has overcome all obstacles, made great sacrifices and achieved brilliant victories one after another, making great contributions to national security and world peace. At present, guided by the Party’s goal of strengthening the army under the new situation, the PLA is unswervingly taking the path of strengthening itself with Chinese characteristics, constantly fulfilling its mission of safeguarding peace as the army of a major power and marching forward courageously towards the goal of building a world-class army in all respects.
The world today is undergoing major changes unseen in a century. Traditional and non-traditional security threats are intertwined and new challenges facing human society are constantly emerging. The Chinese military has always been committed to contributing to the maintenance of world peace and tranquility. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the PLA’s participation in UN peacekeeping operations. So far it has dispatched more than 40,000 officers and soldiers to a total of 25 UN peacekeeping missions. They have built and repaired more than 15,000 kilometres (km) of roads and more than 300 bridges, cleared more than 10,000 pieces of landmines and other unexploded ordnance, transported more than 1.3 million tonnes of materials and equipment with a total length of more than 13 million km and treated more than 200,000 patients.
This year also marks the 12th year of PLA’s participation in the escort operation in the Gulf of Aden under the UN resolution. A total of 105 Chinese Navy escort vessels have been dispatched in 35 batches, which have successfully escorted more than 6,000 civilian ships. The PLA has demonstrated to the world that China is a responsible major power that loves peace and actively participates in UN affairs and is fulfilling its solemn commitment to safeguard regional and world peace.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on global health security. Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out: “No country in the world can enjoy absolute security. When neighbours are in trouble, instead of tightening one’s own fences, one should extend a helping hand to them.” After the PLA quickly and successfully helped to win the pandemic prevention and control war in China, it immediately dispatched anti-COVID-19 medical experts to Cambodia and three other countries, provided materials to the militaries of 50 countries and held pandemic prevention experience exchange video conferences with the militaries of 17 countries. In this way the PLA has contributed “Chinese strength” to the international community’s fight against the pandemic.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1958, China-Cambodia friendship has been strong and especially in the 21st century, it has been constantly radiating with new vigour and vitality. Under the strategic guidance of the leaders of the two countries, all-round exchanges and cooperation between the two militaries in various fields have developed smoothly, setting an example for the world.
The initial peacekeeping operations brought the Chinese military to Cambodia. From April 1992 to September 1993, China sent more than 800 engineering troops to Cambodia in two batches. This was the first time that China sent troops to participate in a UN peacekeeping mission. They overcame various difficulties, repairing more than 500km of roads, erecting 36 bridges, repairing two airports and building thousands of square metres of barracks. Among them, No. 4 and No. 6 highways, which had been severely damaged by the war, were repaired by Chinese troops and became the lifelines for delivering UN relief supplies and peacekeeping forces to various places in Cambodia. During this period, two Chinese peacekeeping soldiers died and gave their young lives for the cause of peace in Cambodia. People later built a monument for them and it is indeed a monument of Sino-Cambodian friendship.
The latest joint fight against the pandemic has brought the relationship between the two militaries to a new level. Right after the pandemic outbreak in China, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen visited Beijing to express his firm support for China. Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Tea Banh went to the Chinese embassy to donate anti-pandemic materials to the Chinese Ministry of National Defence.When the pandemic started in Cambodia, the PLA quickly sent an anti-COVID-19 expert team to Cambodia, the first Chinese military expert team going abroad. The PLA also dispatched military transport planes to provide urgently needed medical supplies to Cambodia in four times, the most in the PLA’s foreign aid flights. The Chinese military experts inherited the spirit of internationalism that the Chinese young peacekeepers defended with their lives. The experts are the messengers of Sino-Cambodian friendship in the new era. They worked hard for two months in Cambodia and performed very well. In return, Samdech Tea Banh specially hosted a ceremony to give them honour medals and to bid them farewell.
President Xi Jinping emphasised that mankind is a community with a shared future and solidarity and cooperation are the most powerful weapons for the international community to overcome the pandemic. The exchanges and cooperation between the PLA and the military of Cambodia and other countries are sincere. Their feelings are truthful and their mutual support is unconditional and wholehearted. In sharp contrast, some countries are practising egoism, unilateralism and bullying and are playing the blame game in order to divert domestic political pressure.
In particular, to shift the spotlight, while criticised for their poor handling of the pandemic, some countries outside the region do not concentrate on saving their people’s lives at home, but try everything possible to stir up trouble in the South China Sea, driving wedges between regional countries and China and undermining China and Asean countries’ efforts in maintaining peace in the South China Sea. At present, because of cooperation between China and Asean countries, the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable. China and Asean countries are not only abiding by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, but also stepping up discussions on a more binding code of conduct in the South China Sea. We firmly believe that the incitement by some countries outside the region will not prevail. The international community has a very clear view of who is the troublemaker and who is damaging peace and stability in this region.
On the occasion of celebrating the 93rd anniversary of the founding of PLA, while looking back on history, we recalled all the hardships we have gone through for national sovereignty and peace and, while looking around the world, we realised that we still have a long way to go for security and development. China has always been a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order. The PLA will continue to carry out international military exchanges and cooperation, jointly respond to global security challenges and actively fulfill its responsibilities and obligations commensurate with China’s international status. The PLA will stay true to its original intentions of advocating cooperation, opposing hegemony and actively contributing to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
Senior Colonel Li Jingfeng is defence attache of the Chinese embassy in Cambodia
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