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China-Russia joint drills vital for security
Publication Date : 01-08-2013
China began sending troops and armament to Russia on July 27 to take part in the China-Russia joint counter-terrorism exercise, code-named Peace Mission 2013. The drill, to start on August 3, comes on the heels of the Joint Sea 2013 drill between the People's Liberation Army Navy and Russia's Pacific Fleet and North Sea Fleet off the Russian port city of Vladivostok from July 5 to 12.
Since this is the first time China and Russia are holding two large-scale drills within a month, they have drawn international attention. The world community, however, has nothing to worry about because Peace Mission 2013 is a counter-terrorism drill and part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation framework, and China and Russia have been holding such exercises since 2005.
About 1,500 ground and air forces, including combat troops and logistics personnel will take part in Peace Mission 2013. The 20-day exercise in Chelyabinsk in Russia's Ural Mountains will be divided into three phases: troop deployment, planning operations and campaign exercises.
The increase in the number of China-Russia joint drill--given their background and meaning--is significant in the fight against terrorism.
First, it shows the strengthening military cooperation between China and Russia, which in more ways than one is the two countries' response to the deteriorating security situations facing them. Peace Mission 2013 is expected to further consolidate the most important aspect of their bilateral relations, that is, military ties.
Joint military drills are also important to prepare Chinese and Russian forces to deal with the new challenges and threats in the fight against terrorists who target the SCO member states of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Holding joint drills will enable China and Russia to learn from each other, deepen mutual trust and boost each other's combat power.
Second, China-Russia joint drills have nothing to do with establishing "military alliances", which some Western politicians and observers wrongly allege is the case. In fact, leaders of both countries have declared explicitly that one of the guiding principles of China-Russia ties is non-alignment, non-confrontation and non-targeting of a third country.
Fang Fenghui, chief of the General Staff of the PLA, has said that China-Russia drills will improve the two forces' coordination capabilities and help them maintain regional security and stability.
The simulated enemies of the joint forces in the Joint Sea 2013 and Peace Mission 2013 drills are obvious: pirates and terrorists. So people who allege that China and Russia are targeting a third country or that they are trying to establish a "military alliance" are only betraying their Cold War mentality.
On the contrary, it is the United States that is trying to "encircle" China and contain Russia by pushing ahead with its "pivot to Asia" strategic policy. Supporting the US move is Japan, which is hell-bent on disowning its history and whitewashing its war crimes, and reverting to its past militaristic policies by playing up the "China-Russia military threat" theory. The US and Japan have made little effort to conceal their intentions of containing China and Russia by holding frequent joint large-scale drills and bolstering their military presence in East Asia.
Third, China-Russia joint drills will have a great impact on the future of regional security. There is little doubt that Peace Mission 2013 will act as deterrence against terrorists and help give shape to the region's security map.
The global situation is getting more complex with some Western powers trying to interfere in the internal and bilateral affairs of other countries, and the unrests in the Middle East and North Africa.
Also, the US-led Nato combat troops will complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of next year, after which the country could again become a hotbed of the "three evil forces" of extremism, terrorism and separatism.
Under such circumstances, SCO member states have to devise a foolproof counter-terrorism strategy through deeper cooperation and better coordination. And as the two major powers in the SCO, China and Russia have to take the lead in working out such a strategy, which is integral to the stability of the region.
Though armed forces act as deterrence against terrorists, they have to be promptly deployed to be of effective use in real combat situations, for which drills are a necessity. And this is the principal reason why China and Russia have been holding joint counter-terrorism drills under the framework of the SCO.
The author is vice president of the Chinese Society for the Study of the History of Sino-Russian Relations.