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People's Daily Online>>World >> Asia/Oceania

US, Thailand hold largest military drill in Asia Pacific

By Sun Guangyong and Han Shuo (People's Daily)

16:13, February 10, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

The Cobra Gold 2012, the largest ever multinational military exercise in the Asia-Pacific region jointly held by Thailand and the United States, began in Thailand on Feb. 7. More than 13,000 military personnel from the United States, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia have participated in the 11-day exercise.

The Cobra Gold exercise has been held annually since 1982. Given the large scale and busy schedule of the 31st Cobra Gold exercise this time and America’s newly unveiled military strategy that switches focus to the Asia-Pacific region, analysts believe that this exercise will be an important step the United States takes to enhance ties and expand cooperation with its Asian allies and to achieve its goal of “returning to Asia” and shifting its strategic focus eastward.

Some analysts believe that carrying out military drills with allies has turned into an important link of the United States' strategy of trying to dominate the Asia-Pacific Region. By carrying out military drills, the U.S. forces could strengthen its relationships with its allies and their mutual trust and carry out interactions dominated by the United States in aspects such as the military command and action, early warning and weapon systematization, and therefore, the United States' dominant military status in this region will be strengthened.

Will China be invited to participate?

According to an anonymous officer from an air force staff officer college, the possibility that China participates in this drill is very small, because the participators are mainly the United States' allies in the Asia-Pacific Region. Furthermore, in some items of the drill, the imaginary incident is a conflict of the Taiwan Strait, the United States and its allies interfere in the war and the possible opponent is China.

Regarding the issue that the United States strengthens its military deployment in the Asia-Pacific Region, Ernest Bower, director of the Southeast Asia project group under the U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that the U.S. forces emphasizes strengthening the patrol instead of founding new military bases, indicating that the United States' paces in the Asia-Pacific Region are light-footed but everywhere.

He believes that the United States should continue implementing this clear policy, strengthen not only relationships with its allies including Australia, the Philippines and Japan but also the cooperation with Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and countries of west Asia, and ultimately bring China in.

The United States should also regard establishing the trust and further strengthening the military relationship with China as a long-term goal to alleviate Southeast Asian countries' worries and create the peace and prosperity of double dividends in the most vigorous Asia-Pacific Region of the world.

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