When Chinese Peacekeepers Abandoned Their Posts Instead of Protecting Civilians

The job of UN peacekeepers is to protect civilians in areas where there exists an imminent danger of violence. One such area where the UN deploys a large number of troops is South Sudan where it has 12,500 troops from 61 countries working as peacekeepers.

Under the UN’s terms of engagement, the peacekeeping force, which is equipped with armoured vehicles and heavy weapons, has the authority to take action to protect civilians and staff from violence.

This particular incident goes back to 2015, when Chinese peacekeepers were entrusted with the safety of a civilian site in Juba but fled the scene instead of protecting those in danger.

In July 2015, attacks were launched by one of the rebel groups in Sudan which lead to tens of thousands of civilians seeking safety. During this outbreak of violence in Juba, Chinese UN peacekeepers (PLA soldiers) stayed in their bases rather than protect civilians. But this is nothing. They even abandoned their posts completely leaving weapons and ammunitions behind!

Even the Ethiopian troops performed much better as they were said to have returned fire on a few occasions and even helped in the evacuation of casualties.

One UN base was only a few hundred metres from the compound where workers were trapped. Despite dozens of appeals for help from these aid workers and personal visits from at least one who escaped from the compound, the peacekeepers didn’t help.

Not only this but the UN even gave orders to the peacekeepers to intervene, but the Chinese didn’t even leave their bases. Is this how the soldiers of a ‘responsible’ power behave?

Another shocking aspect is that during the four days of fighting between the rival forces, artillery rounds and gunfire hit two UN bases killed two Chinese peacekeepers. Even then the PLA troops didn’t retaliate!

If this isn’t cowardice then what is? Despite their own men getting killed, their blood didn’t boil. Maybe they were restricted under the rules of the UN to retaliate heavily, but the incredible aspect is that they didn’t even fight back in self-defence.

The story doesn’t end here. It was the Indian Army that was called upon to save the day and no surprises there, they easily did it. The Kumaon Regiment, who were held in reserve, took charge and restored normalcy with their usual brilliance.

Our soldiers weeded out the very militiamen with ease who’d terrified the PLA troops. And to think that they are threatening the battle-hardened Indian Army with ‘dire consequences’ in the current Doklam standoff. Modern weapons are useless if the people operating them are timid. Might just be the case with the PLA.


Vinayak Jain