China Trains Afghans and Iraqis in Mine Clearing


Regular Member
May 24, 2009

HONG KONG — The Chinese military said Tuesday that it had begun training 40 officers from Iraq and Afghanistan to clear and defuse land mines.

China has trained 300 mine specialists from 15 countries over the past decade, its Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Most recently, in June, 20 Sudanese soldiers completed a six-week demining course in Nanjing.

The training of foreign mine-clearing specialists appears to serve the dual purpose of assisting in China’s steadily expanding search abroad for oil and gas, including projects in Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Angola and Ethiopia, and burnishing China’s image in the world.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has described the demining course as “an important step in the Chinese government’s active participation in international mine-clearing,” although Beijing has refused to sign the international treaty to ban anti-personnel mines, also known as the Ottawa Treaty.

The United States, Russia and India also have not signed the protocol.

The training is expected to be of extra help to the Iraqis. In recent months, the country has suffered a surge in violent attacks by insurgents, especially in their use of improvised explosive devices that essentially function as high-powered land mines. Bomb-detection techniques and the defusing of explosives remain important skills for military units and security forces there.

Tensions in Iraq have also increased over developments at the Adhab field, southeast of Baghdad. China National Petroleum Corporation, a state-owned company, has struck oil at the Ahdab field, in Wasit Province, but local dissatisfaction has led the Chinese company to worry about security even as it has already posted guards at the site.

Angry that the Ahdab field has not delivered an expected boon of jobs and infrastructure development, local farmers have wrecked generators, punctured pipelines, severed electrical cables and intimidated Chinese workers.

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