China holds homecoming ceremony for peacekeepers killed in Haiti quake

11:25, January 19, 2010      

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Soldiers carry the coffins of the eight peacekeeping police officers who died in the Haiti earthquake at the airport in Beijing, China, Jan. 19, 2010. (Xinhua/Zhang Duo)

China held a homecoming ceremony for eight peacekeeping police officers, who were killed in the Haiti earthquake last week, at the Beijing Capital International Airport on Tuesday morning.

State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu presided over the ceremony.

Zhou Yongkang, a Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, joined families and colleagues of the police officers as their coffins were escorted off the China Southern Airlines Boeing 747 which landed in Beijing earlier on Tuesday.

Wearing a white paper flower attached to his chest and a black armband, Zhou led the mourners to bow three times before the coffins draped in Chinese national flags.

"We stand here heavy-hearted," Zhou said in a speech delivered at the ceremony.

The eight peacekeeping police officers were "outstanding representatives of China's police and excellent sons and daughters of the Chinese nation," he said.

Of the eight Chinese victims returned home, four were officers of China's peacekeeping force in Haiti, and the rest were in a team sent by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) to Haiti for peacekeeping consultations.

Their bodies were found in the debris of the U.N. mission headquarters in Port-au-Prince on Saturday and Sunday.

The eight officers sacrificed their lives for the cause of world peace, Zhou said, adding that their sacrifices would not be forgotten by people in China, in Haiti, and across the world.

He said China was a peace-loving country, and that the country had fulfilled its international obligations and shouldered its responsibilities as a major power in the world by sending out peacekeeping police to other countries and regions in support of U.N. missions.

More than 1,500 Chinese peacekeeping police officers had been dispatched to seven countries and regions since 2000, he said, speaking highly of their contributions to world peace and harmony.


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