China is not wont to join international efforts that involve its troops, usually citing non-interference in other countries’ affairs. But Beijing has started deploying 700 soldiers to join a United Nations peacekeeping force in South Sudan to protect oil fields and Chinese workers. The move comes amid a rebellion in the African nation, which gained its independence from Sudan in 2011. The airlift of a Chinese infantry battalion to South Sudan’s Unity and Upper Nile states will take several days. It is the first time, according to the U.N., that China has contributed a battalion to a peacekeeping mission. It reflects Beijing’s expanding interest, both political and business, in Africa.