Chinese troops ready to join South Sudan UN force

UN peacekeepers secure a section of the airport in Juba, South Sudan, on 12 August 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The UN has more than 11,000 peacekeepers in the world's newest state

China has said 700 troops are ready to be deployed to South Sudan to bolster a UN force in the country, China's official Xinhua news agency reports.

It will be the first peacekeeping battalion to be deployed, it says.

On Sunday, a Chinese firm said it had signed a deal with South Sudan to increase its oil production.

It fell by about a third after conflict broke out a year ago, raising concern in China as it is heavily dependent on oil from the East African state.

Conflict in numbers:

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Many people have been forced to depend on food aid because of the conflict
  • At least 50,000 killed
  • About 1.9 million displaced
  • About 235,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition
  • About 2.5 million people risk severe food insecurity next year
  • About 180 health facilities destroyed or no longer functioning

Sources: ICG; Ocha

Xinhua reported that 180 troops would fly to South Sudan next month followed by the rest of the battalion in March.

A rally was held on Monday in the city of Laiyang in Shandong Province for the battalion, which would be equipped with drones, armoured infantry carriers, anti-tank missiles, mortars and other weapons for self-defence purposes, it said.

Meanwhile, the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) said, in a statement, that it would use heavy oil recovery technologies in "stabilising and increasing crude output" following the deal signed with South Sudan's government.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Fighting between rebels and government troops has damaged some oil fields

China's oil fears over South Sudan

Oil accounts for more than 90% of South Sudan's foreign revenues.

Its oil-producing regions have seen some of the worst fighting since President Salva Kiiir accused his sacked deputy, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup last December.

Mr Machar denied the allegation but then marshalled a rebel force to fight Mr Kiir's government.

International mediation efforts to end the conflict have failed.

The UN has more than 11,000 peacekeepers in South Sudan, which became independent in 2011 after breaking away from Sudan.

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