Chinese soldiers clear mines, win hearts
Updated: 2013-04-22 02:49
By HU YONGQI in Yunnan (China Daily)
A Chinese peacekeeper unearths a bomb. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY
Humanitarian aid is another major task for peacekeeping soldiers. Many soldiers said they not only represent the Chinese army but also the Chinese people, therefore their goal was also to make friends with the Lebanese people and give them a helping hand.
Rap Racine, a fruit grower in Tyre, the fourth-largest city in Lebanon, did not sell the first oranges from his harvest last year. Instead, he gave them to Chinese soldiers as thanks for their efforts in cleaning unexploded cluster bombs on his farm.
During the Israel-Lebanon conflict, bombs were dropped over Racine's orchard, and a number of smaller explosives lodged in the branches of his orange trees. Racine was terrified when he heard the small bombs would, if touched improperly, ruin the trees that were the main source of income for his family.
Tang Shangping, then-commander of the Chinese peacekeeping soldiers, ordered his men to remove the cluster bombs.
"The small bombs in the trees were really hard to dispose of. If we shook the branch, the bombs would explode. So, we had to make sure the trees didn't quiver while we got rid of the small bombs," said minesweeper Li Hu, another soldier who just returned from Lebanon.
In Tyre, former commander Huang and his soldiers routinely gave lectures on how to handle landmines and emergency treatment. Huang frequented an orphanage built by the International Red Cross to give lectures on demining and Chinese medicine. About 90 percent of the 1,000 children at the orphanage had lost their parents in the conflict.
"The kids really like Chinese soldiers and play games with them. We are planning to sponsor 50 Lebanese kids to come here this year to see the real China," said Huang.
In addition, Chinese soldiers provided medical services for 5,300 locals, about 90 percent of the 6,000 people in the three towns neighboring the Chinese soldiers' camp.
As the interactions deepened, Huang and his soldiers gained the locals' trust. "When I visited the city council of Tyre, the chairman gave me three kisses on the cheek and forehead, which is the highest courtesy in Lebanon," Huang said with pride.
Li Yingqing, Guo Anfei, Ling Tao and Liu Song contributed to this story.