Joint military drill to boost peace and stability

13:49, July 21, 2009

China and Russia will hold a "Peace Mission 2009" joint anti-terrorism military exercise from July 22 to July 26. Following the organization of and participation in the Peace Mission 2005 and 2007, this large-scale military drill will be held by the two nations' troops within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Reporters from People's Daily Online interviewed Major General Qian Lihua, director of the Foreign Affairs Office at the Ministry of National Defense, to talk about the drill.

"Joint military drill helps boost regional peace and stability"

Question: Would you please explain the objective and meaning of the China-Russia Peace Mission 2009 joint military drill?

Qian Lihua: The China-Russia Peace Mission 2009 is the third exercise of the "Peace Mission" series. It is a strategic decision made by the CPC Central Committee, the CPC Central Military Commission and President Hu Jintao, and has important political and military significance, demonstrated by the following three aspects:

Firstly, China-Russia military drills help to boost regional peace and stability. As the "three forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism are rampant nowadays, the drill is of profound significance in combating the "three forces" and creating a favorable security environment.

Secondly, the drill deepens the two nations' strategic cooperation partnerships. A joint drill is a symbol for high-level strategic and mutual trust between nations. It is a powerful move for China and Russia to strengthen pragmatic cooperation in the field of defense and intensify the two nations' strategic cooperation partnerships.

Thirdly, the China-Russia joint exercise raises the two militaries' combat force and cooperation levels. This drill is a regular occurrence between China and Russia, not targeted at any third parties. Based on a principle of strategically mutual benefits, treatment and implementation, the two militaries will test out anti-terrorism cooperation programs in this drill, which feature a higher degree of actual combat. The two militaries will fully develop their spirit of cooperation, joint actions and well-honed combat skills.

"The aspect of actual combat is highlighted"

Question: Please introduce the arrangements for this exercise.

Qian: The drill will be held at two separate locations, one in Khabarovsk, Russia and the other at the Taonan tactical training base in China's Shenyang Military Area Command between July 22 and July 26, 2009. The priority is to exercise joint anti-terrorism warfare preparations and implementation, among other programs. The first phase of the exercise is strategic talks, to be held in Khabarovsk for one day. Chiefs of General Staff from China and Russia will discuss major international security issues, hold an opening ceremony for the drill and announce the instructions.

The second phase is joint anti-terrorism warfare preparations, to be held at the Taonan tactical training base in China's Shenyang Military Area Command for three days. The main goal is to jointly determine military campaigns, formulate battle plans and organize cooperation.

The third phase is joint anti-terrorism warfare implementation, which will also be held at the Taonan tactical training base for one day. The priority is to exercise four aspects—joint blockade and control, three-dimensional breakthroughs, mobility to wipe out enemy forces, and in-depth encirclement and annihilation. Around 1,300 officers and soldiers from each side will participate. Currently, troops from China and Russia are making comprehensive preparations before the exercise.

Question: Compared with past China-Russia joint military drills, what characteristics does this exercise have?

Qian: There are three main features.

Firstly, the drill is held against a special background. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia. This drill is a specific move to consolidate and deepen the two nations' strategic cooperation partnerships, an important practice to implement the consensus reached at the SCO summit and a key program for celebrating the two nations' diplomatic relations.

Secondly, the aspect of actual combat is highlighted. From making reports on the intention of warfare to setting up programs, all center on actual anti-terrorism combat. The joint military drill was designed with a high starting point and high standards of preparation.

Thirdly, the period of time for preparing the drill was short. There are only six months from deciding to hold the actual exercise to doing it, which puts a high requirement on the units receiving training and the troops taking part. This will further train and demonstrate Chinese forces' quick response capabilities.

"China and Russia have frequent high-level military exchanges, covering multiple fields and reflecting actual practice."

Q: We know that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia. Could you tell us something about the pragmatic military exchanges and cooperation between the two nations under the China-Russia strategic cooperation partnerships?

Qian: As you said, this year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Russia and the strategic cooperation partnership between the two nations has witnessed tremendous development since its inception 13 years ago. With the meticulous nurturing of the two nations' political leaders and the joint efforts by their defense departments and armies at various levels, bilateral military relations, pragmatic exchanges and cooperation have developed smoothly. In general, bilateral military exchanges feature frequent high-level visits, covering multiple fields and reflecting actual practice.

First, high-level exchanges have become frequent. It has become a routine for the two nations to arrange an exchange between defense ministers or chiefs of general staff at least once a year. Frequent exchanges between defense departments and high-level military visits have effectively driven the smooth development of bilateral military relations between China and Russia.

Second, strategic consultation has become a routine mechanism. Since 1997, the militaries of China and Russia established a mechanism to hold annual consultations between the two sides' leadership at the level of deputy chief of the general staff. So far, 12 rounds of strategic consultation have been held, which has promoted mutual trust and friendly cooperation.

Third, exchanges between professional groups and teams have become pragmatic. The militaries of China and Russia have conducted pragmatic exchanges and cooperation in many forces and corps including communications, engineering and mapping. For example, since 1996, China has successively dispatched over 1,000 military students to study in more than 20 academies including the Russia General Staff Academy and the college of combined corps among others.

Fourth, joint military exercises simulate actual combat. To improve the ability of the two militaries to cope with new challenges and threats, the initial objective, program setup and troop drills highlighted the need to simulate an actual battle. From 2005, the Chinese and Russian militaries successively held or participated in the "Peace Mission 2005" and "Peace Mission 2007" joint anti-terrorism exercises, and will participate in the upcoming "Peace Mission 2009" joint anti-terrorism exercise, indicating that strategic mutual trust and pragmatic cooperation between the two militaries will enter a new stage.

"A series of bilateral joint military exercises have become a highlight of the Chinese military's foreign exchanges this year."

Q: We have noticed that this year the People's Liberation Army conducted many joint exercises and training exercises with foreign militaries. Could you tell us something about this? What significance does this have on the construction and development of the Chinese military?

Qian: Since June, the Chinese military has successively held a series of bilateral joint exercises and training exercises with foreign militaries, they have become a highlight of the Chinese military's foreign exchanges.

For the first time, China held a joint humanitarian aid operation between June 7 and 30 called "Peace Angel 2009" with the African country, Gabon. While simulating a rescue at a mine disaster, medical officers and soldiers from the two militaries also provided services for 18,000 local residents for free.

Between June 18 and 26, the Chinese military held a joint security exercise named "Cooperation-2009." It was conducted at a military base in Guangzhou and was a first time cooperation with Singaporean armed forces. The two militaries held academic discussions and troop drills, focusing on how to cope with nuclear, biological, and chemical terrorist attacks.

Between June 28 and July 3, the Chinese military held a joint exercise with Mongolia for the first time, named "Peacekeeping Mission-2009," in a Beijing training base. The two militaries discussed the tasks of peacekeeping units under the United Nations and held peacekeeping drills including supply transport, protection and defense.

"Peace Mission -2009" China-Russia joint anti-terrorism exercise

Active exercises with foreign militaries help deepen the mutual trust between China and other countries and prompt the development of bilateral military relations. It is also beneficial for China to learn advanced foreign techniques when running and developing an army, so as to improve the Chinese army's ability to achieve various tasks. It helps present the Chinese army's positive image of peace, cooperation, openness and confidence, actively promote military reforms with Chinese characteristics and achieve the scientific development and modernization of national defense and the army.

By People's Daily Online

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