China said Thursday that it would send 700 troops to join a United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, where fighting between government forces and rebels has threatened Beijing’s oil investments. The troops will assist the United Nations with protecting citizens and aid workers, China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement. United Nations officials have previously said it would be the first time that China had contributed an entire battalion to a United Nations peacekeeping mission. Last year China sent a smaller “protection unit” to join a United Nations mission in Mali, and China has more than 1,800 peacekeepers on various missions in Africa, China’s Foreign Ministry said this month. About 5 percent of China’s oil imports came from South Sudan when its facilities were pumping at full capacity. The China National Petroleum Corporation has a 40 percent stake in a joint venture that is developing South Sudan’s oil fields.
The Crossroads of Special Operations