With a thundering explosion, the People's Liberation Army soldiers on Thursday detonated the last mine in a minefield in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
The operation marked the completion of a years-long landmine-sweeping mission in the Guangxi section of the Sino-Vietnam border, clearing a dangerous historical legacy that had hindered border development.
Hand-in-hand, soldiers ceremonially walked across part of the minefield in the border city of Pingxiang that covers more than 60,000 square meters, before handing the landmine-free field over to the locals.
Hundreds of thousands of landmines were laid along the border during confrontations between China and Vietnam from 1979 to 1989.
"In the 1990s, the landmines often caused injuries to local villagers," said local resident Mo Shaohua. "Since the de-mining mission, there have been only a few such cases and the lives of the villagers have returned to normal."
"Landmines planted along the border have been plaguing local residents," said Huang Taifeng, a commander of the de-mining squad. "To completely root out the danger of landmines helps pave the way for regional peace and development."
Since the latest round of de-mining in Guangxi started last November, PLA soldiers have found and detonated more than 2,300 explosives, clearing more than 1.5 million square meters of minefields.
Huang said that through careful planning and scientific methods, no member of his squad was injured during the entire mission.
"Our de-mining operation will bring peace and development to the border region," said 19-year-old Nie Zhenting, the youngest member of the squad. "I am very proud to be part of the mission."
The landmine-sweeping mission in Guangxi is part of China's third large-scale de-mining missions since the 1990s.
China conducted two large-scale de-mining campaigns from 1992 to 1994 and from 1997 to 1999, respectively. From 2001 to 2008, Chinese soldiers also cleared mines for a boundary demarcation project.