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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 16:06, December 21, 2004
China's military diplomacy in 2004: Foster an image of big power with frequent joint military exercises
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"To be much more down-to-earth, active and effective'', said a responsible official from the foreign affairs office of the Ministry of National Defence in an exclusive interview with a reporter when summarizing the military diplomacy of China in 2004.

As an important component of overall diplomacy of China, rich achievements have been made in widespread, in-depth and down-to-earth military exchanges and cooperation with foreign military counterparts in the past more than a year.

Firstly paying attention to frequent high-level visits with big powers.

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers's visit to China started the China's military diplomacy in 2004 while Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov's second successful visit to China ended the diplomacy.

"The two visits mark the new development stage of the military relations between China and big powers'', said the official.

According to the data offered by the foreign affairs office of the ministry China has completed more than 100 important exchanges in 2004. A boost in high-level mutual visits has pushed the in-depth development of Sino-Russian military relations and the stable and healthy development of Sino-US relations between the two armies. China has engaged in military exchanges and cooperation with various countries across the world in a multi-faceted and multi-tiered way.

Secondly attaching importance to the relations with neighboring countries and to consolidating regional security.

As a dialogue partner with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) China has been always the active member of ASEAN Regional Forum.

From November 4 to 6 the first security policy conference of the ASEAN Regional Forum was successfully held in Beijing. The significance of the conference sponsored and hosted by China is that it has filled a blank for the dialogues between high-level military officials at the ASEAN Regional Forum. It is evidently beneficial and necessary to have the important dialogue mechanism for the Asian and Pacific region and broaden the channel for security dialogue.

In the past three years, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) set up under the active sponsorship of China has effectively improved regional security and stability with a practice of new viewpoint of security "mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and co-operation''.

Chen Zhou, research fellow with the strategic research department of the Academy of Military Sciences, deems that the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have constituted a cooperative complexion for mutual support, sound regional security and cooperation. It will play an important role in creating a long-tern and stable environment with the neighboring countries and for the international security of China.

Thirdly being more down-to-earth in joint military exercises.

The joint military exercises are no doubt the most active interpretation of the Sino-foreign military cooperation. In 2004 China has held joint sea rescue exercises with Britain, France and Australia respectively. China has also held a joint anti-terrorism military exercise with Pakistan at high altitudes, a joint mountain-climbing exercise with India and a joint sea patrol in the Beibu Gulf with Viet Nam. It is reported that China and Russia will jointly hold a first-ever military exercise next year in China.

It is not difficult to discover that the number of military exercises is on the increase when the joint military exercises are counted in the past years. There was only once in 2002. That was the joint anti-terrorism exercise held by China and the Kyrgyz Republic, the first of its kind between China and a foreign army; three times in 2003 and more than 5 times in 2004.

The exercises are held from anti-terrorism to sea rescue, joint mountain-climbing exercise and from land to sea and high altitudes. With the increase of exercises the exercise scope has been enlarged. "We have paid more attention to down-to-earth cooperation with foreign armies'', said the official with the foreign affairs office.

"'The down-to-earth' contains a change in thinking'', said Chen Hu, chief editor and military expert of "Military world'' magazine. Anti-terrorism is no longer the only proposition. The foreign military cooperation and exchanges as represented by joint military exercises are shifting to a traditional security area from a non-traditional security area. "After all, the security issue China is facing is an entwined one of non-traditional and traditional factors. And the latter is basic for national security.

Fourth fulfilling our duty with an image of a big power.

On January 2, 2004, three Chinese airplanes with a loan of 110 tons of goods including quilts, coats and tents flew to Bam, Iran. On January 17, a letter sent by Iranian ambassador to China said, "Chinese government and people have offered material and spirit assistance to earthquake-hit victims in Iran. In fact the assistance is good medicine for curing the inward wound of the people in Bam area and that of the Iranian people''.

Trusted by the Chinese government, the Ministry of National Defence has offered emergency humanitarianism assistances to Iran, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Madagascar and Morocco in 2004.

As a permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations, China will fulfill its duty to maintain international security actively and devotedly.

By People's Daily Online

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