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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 September, 2004, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
China police to keep Haiti peace
Chinese police officers during a demonstration at a training camp in Langfang, on the outskirts of Beijing
The riot police showed off their skills on Wednesday
China is due to deploy riot police in Haiti next month, as part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission.

This is China's highest profile overseas mission to date.

On Wednesday, the recruits showed off their skills at a newly-built training centre south of Beijing, marching in formation in their blue UN helmets.

Their mission is to help Haiti's police force cope with devastating floods which are thought to have killed some 2,000 people in the last two weeks.

An advance party of 30 Chinese police officers has already left for Haiti, with the rest of the 125-member team due to arrive in early October.

Officials at the Beijing training centre said the troops' role was to supervise Haitian police, maintain order and help to rebuild the judicial system.

"According to the information we have received from the UN, lately the Haiti police organisation has been really damaged," said Zhao Xiaoxun, captain of the riot police unit.

"The most important thing is to train the local police," he told Reuters news agency.

Higher profile

In the past, China has been accused of contributing less than its fair share to international missions, especially as it is a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Tan Jun, who heads the peacekeeping division at China's ministry of public security, said of the Haiti deployment: "This shows we're making great contributions in the peacekeeping units of the UN.

"I believe China will make even greater contributions to UN peacekeeping missions in the future," he added.

The move could also be a chance for Beijing to gain influence in the developing world, at the expense of its rival, Taiwan, observers say.

China views Taiwan as part of its territory, and has threatened to invade it if the island ever declares independence.

Haiti, as well as about 20 other countries, maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan rather than China.

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