China reportedly plans to deploy a total of 700 troops to South Sudan as part of a UN peacekeeping mission in the conflict-torn African country.
According to China’s Xinhua News Agency, 180 of the peacekeepers will be sent to the country in January and the rest are to be deployed there in March.
The report added that the Chinese force will be equipped with drones, armored infantry carriers, anti-tank missiles, mortars and other weapons for self-defense purposes.
The infantry battalion includes 121 officers and 579 soldiers, among them female troops.
More than 2,000 Chinese soldiers have been deployed to conflict zones around the world as peacekeepers.
South Sudan plunged into violence in December 2013, when fighting erupted between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and defectors led by his former deputy, Riek Machar, around the capital Juba.
The conflict soon turned into an all-out war between the army and the defectors, with the violence taking on an ethnic dimension that pitted the president’s Dinka tribe against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group.
The clashes have left tens of thousands of South Sudanese dead and forced around 1.9 million people to flee their homes in the world’s youngest nation.
South Sudan gained independence in July 2011 after its people overwhelmingly voted in a referendum for a split from the North.