China today condemned an Israeli attack in Lebanon that killed one Chinese UN observer and called for new Middle East peace efforts.
“We are deeply shocked by this incident and strongly condemn it,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement on the ministry website.
An Israeli bomb destroyed a UN observer post with four staff inside on Lebanon’s southern border yesterday. China’s official Xinhua News Agency identified the Chinese fatality as Du Zhaoyu, a member of a UN peacekeeping mission.
Du was part of a group of 182 Chinese military peacekeepers sent to Lebanon in February and April, Xinhua said. The deployment marked the first time China had sent peacekeepers to the Middle East, state media reported earlier this year.
“I’m very sad,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, who was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for a regional conference.
“We should try harder to call on the parties to be restrained and to be calm and restore the peace process of the Middle East immediately,” Li said.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry statement said Israel’s ambassador to Beijing was summoned this morning and asked to convey Beijing’s request that Israel fully investigate the incident and issue an apology to China and he victims’ families.
It called on Israel to ensure the safety of UN peacekeepers in Lebanon.
Du’s mission was tasked with landmine clearing, the construction of roads, buildings, car parks and defence facilities and providing humanitarian assistance, the official People’s Liberation Army Daily newspaper said in April.
It was not the first time a Chinese military peacekeeper had died while on duty.
Zhang Li, deputy director of the Peacekeeping Affairs Office of the Defence Ministry, was quoted by the PLA Daily last year as saying that six Chinese servicemen had lost their lives in UN peacekeeping operations since 1990.
More than 4,000 peacekeeping troops, military observers and engineering personnel have taken part in 14 UN peacekeeping activities between 1990 and 2005, Zhang was quoted as saying.