- by Song Zhongping
- The Guardian
- Issue #1974
Russia is set to join a military exercise with China in the Qingtongxia Joint Tactical Training Base in Northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region from August 9 to 13. According to Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defence, the theme of this upcoming military exercise is jointly safeguarding regional security and stability.
The purpose of the exercise is to consolidate the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era between China and Russia. This will also deepen the pragmatic cooperation and traditional friendship between the two militaries, further displaying the determination and ability of both sides to combat terrorist forces and maintain regional peace and security, Wu said.
The drill is named “The Zapad/Interaction-2021.” China and Russia will dispatch multiple types of aircraft, artillery pieces and armoured equipment to test joint reconnaissance, early warnings, as well as electronic information attack and strike capabilities. “Interaction” means that the drill will include multiple services, including the army and the air forces.
It will be a land-air integrated joint operation, and its main target will be forces that endanger regional security; namely the “three forces” – the forces of terrorism, extremism and separatism.
The drill will be the first time Russian forces will enter the Qingtongxia military base. This is also the first joint drill to be held in China since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic. This clearly demonstrates that the mutual trust of the Chinese and Russian armed forces is increasing in earnest. From previous exercises in non-traditional security fields to all-round exercises in all subjects, China-Russia military cooperation is becoming closer.
In the context of the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era between China and Russia, Beijing and Moscow have the need to increase their military mutual trust. Also, due to the US-led Western countries’ continued suppression, the two countries are forced to forge closer military cooperation. The “three forces” still pose a major threat to Central Asian countries, China and Russia. It is necessary for Beijing and Moscow to strengthen unity on this issue.
A Newsweek report on Thursday said that China and Russia will hold the joint drill “just as the last of the US soldiers are set to exit Afghanistan.” The overriding goals of the drill “were both political and tactical,” it read.
However, it is necessary to point out that the joint drill is a regular event. It was planned as early as last year. Thus, the drill is not aimed at any third party. The military exercises between China and Russia are becoming increasingly close. The two countries have carried out various exercises in both traditional and non-traditional fields in order to maintain regional peace and stability.
As for whether the joint drill is related to the situation in Afghanistan, the key point lies in whether Afghanistan will still suffer from threats from the “three forces.” It is the mission of China, Russia as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to crack down on the “three forces.” Therefore, the drill is not aimed at a specific party. Some US media have been overly concerned about the joint China-Russia exercise.
But indeed, Washington has been creating more troubles around Beijing and Moscow. Its irresponsible withdrawal from Afghanistan has left a mess in the country. We also need to beware that Washington may drive a wedge in Central Asia, threatening China-Russia relations or even the cohesion and unity of the SCO. In response to the fact that Washington is causing more chaos worldwide, Beijing and Moscow should jointly make it clear to the US that it should not interfere in more regional affairs. Beijing and Moscow are important backbone forces for maintaining regional peace and stability.