The eight Chinese peacekeepers killed in last Tuesday's earthquake in Haiti were well aware that peacekeeping is a dangerous job. They had been trained to deal with civil unrest, tropical diseases and natural disasters. As they were meeting officials at the headquarters of the UN Stabilisation Mission in Port-au-Prince, the tremor struck, taking their lives and those of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of UN staff. Their loss is a tragedy for their families and China, and highlights the everyday realities of the blue-helmeted men and women who strive to bring peace and stability to our troubled world.
Taking on such a role is no insignificant task. It requires dedication and determination. Being posted to a peacekeeping mission inevitably means going to a far-flung and troubled part of the world. There is always the possibility that life will be sacrificed.
Ministry of Public Security officials Zhu Xiaoping, Guo Baoshan, Wang Shulin and Li Xiaoming and peacekeepers Zhao Huayu, Li Qin, Zhong Jianqin and He Zhihong made that ultimate sacrifice. They were imbued with the spirit of humanitarianism and had a faith in peace. Those same basic principles drive their 134 Chinese colleagues in Haiti, the 9,100 other international peacekeepers and the teams of rescuers and aid workers helping the millions of victims of the quake. Their efforts will always be remembered.
China's eight batches of peacekeepers sent to Haiti since 2004 have earned high praise. The head of the UN's mission in Haiti, Hedi Annabi - who also died in the quake - had spoken of their professionalism and devotion to peace. Similar sentiments have been expressed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about the 12,753 troops and 1,571 police the nation has so far sent to 18 UN peace missions. China now ranks among the top 10 contributors of funds and peacekeeping forces.
Through these commitments, the nation is working towards the ideal of lasting world peace. To bring this closer to reality, China and other nations must continue contributions to UN peacekeeping missions and co-operate in global security. The deaths of the eight peacekeepers is a reminder that the price of participation can be high. Nonetheless, tackling global instability is also crucial. There is no other way to give practical meaning to the words of the UN charter: 'To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.'