China and Russia continue joint army exercise

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Friday, August 19, 2005

Russian and Chinese armed forces began their first ever joint military exercises since the Korean War, when Russia was still part of the Soviet Union, on Thursday. The exercises are expected to last for eight days.

10,000 troops — about 1800 Russians, the rest Chinese — are participating in the war games. The exercises simulate United Nations-mandated police action to restore order in a fictitious country torn by ethnic unrest. They began in the eastern Russian port-city of Vladivostok and are supposed to culminate in a mock invasion involving beach landings and paratrooper drops off the coast of the Jiaodong peninsula in eastern China.

Russian and Chinese officials have framed the exercises as promoting international cooperation, but some in the US and elsewhere see the exercises as preparation for a possible future invasion of Taiwan, and as a challenge to US dominance in Asia — particularly in Afghanistan. The exercises come amid increasing speculation in the US that China may come to replace the US as the world's greatest superpower.

Russia and China are working together to help form of a world order that will be based on multipolarity, respect for international law, and a leading role for the UN, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev said on Monday, August 15, 2005.[1]

“The exercise will be carried out in the framework of the fight against international terrorism and extremism, to respond to new threats and challenges,” said Liang Guanglie, chief of staff of China’s armed forces.[2]

But others citing the use in the operation of advanced aircraft atypical of a peacekeeping operation, say the countries have ulterior motives. "The main target is the US. Both sides want to improve their position for bargaining in terms of security, politics and economics," said Jin Canrong, professor of international relations at the People's University of China.[3]

A Taiwanese official quoted by Mosnews.com said, China's involvement in the operations represents “the biggest security threat in the Asiatic-Pacific region.” [4]

However other analysts speculate that Russia's motivations for using the aircraft, including Tu-95 strategic bombers and Tu-22M long-range bombers, in the exercises may be to promote their sale to the Chinese.

"Military cooperation is linked with political and economic cooperation as part of a bigger package," said Robert Karniol, Asia-Pacific editor for Jane's Defence Weekly. "It's not an adversarial posture."[5]

Many have noted that the joint exercises are an emblem of increasingly warm relations between China and Russia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. But writing In an editorial for the International Herald Tribune, Phillip Bowring disagrees, saying that the primary purpose of the operations is as a warning to the US. "The current Russia-China joint military exercises are not so much a symbol of trust and friendship between the two as a symptom of American overstretch. The two are reminding the United States of the limits of its unilateral global power."[6]

Despite speculation into the motives of Russia and China, the US has given at least token support to the idea that the exercises could promote international interests. “We are following the exercises,” U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said this week. “We expect that they will be conducted in a manner that supports some mutual goal of regional stability shared by the United States, China and Russia.”[7]

Others say the operations are mainly a response to separatism and Islamic extremism in Russian Chechnya and the Chinese Xinjiang.

“The exercises are the logical continuation of the first signs of cooperation between Russia and China in the struggle against ‘orange revolutions,’ separatism and the dominant influence of the U.S. in the Euroasiatic sphere,” the Gazeta.ru news website wrote Thursday. Orange was the color adopted by supporters of last year’s revolution in Ukraine, which along with mass demonstrations in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, brough pro-Western administrations to power. [8]

The war games have been called "Peace Mission 2005".

Sources

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