China will send 435 peacekeepers on a U.N. mission to help rebuild Sudan, with the first batch leaving next month, government media said.
The force will include engineers, a transportation unit and a medical team. China opposed U.N. efforts to punish Sudan's government with sanctions as violence in the country's Darfur region raged. Beijing typically urges the world body not to pass judgment on other countries to avoid scrutiny of its own repressive polices, such as in independence-minded Tibet.
China's oil interests in Sudan also made it reluctant to criticize the government. At the same time, China is playing a growing role in international peacekeeping as its global profile rises and it seeks new ways to train and modernize its military.
Sudan's previously Islamic-oriented government was accused of unleashing Arab tribal militia against civilians in a campaign of murder, rape and arson. A peace deal in January ended Sudan's civil war, although the United Nations says violence is continuing and includes attacks on aid workers.
The Chinese team heading to Sudan will build and repair roads, airports, bridges, and water and power supply facilities. It will also perform medical work. The first 165 peacekeepers are to leave in October, the agency said. China also has sent peacekeepers on U.N. missions in East Timor, Bosnia, Liberia, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Haiti, AP reports.