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Chief vow to build up military ties

Wang Xu
Updated: Sep 1,2014 10:35 AM     China Daily

This photo taken on Aug 26, 2014 shows China’s People’s Liberation Army participating in the “Peace Mission 2014” drill, organized by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Zhurihe, North China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region.[Photo/Xinhua]

Peace Mission 2014, a joint military drill that began on Aug 24, concluded on Aug 29 with forces from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan successfully completing their training tasks.

This photo taken on Aug 26, 2014, shows PLA armed helicopters taking part in the “Peace Mission 2014” drill.[Photo/Xinhua]

The chiefs of general staff of the countries, which are all Shanghai Cooperation Organization members, and representatives of observer countries, dialogue partners and embassy attaches watched the drill and attended the closing ceremonies.

On Thursday, at a meeting of the chiefs of general staff of SCO members in Beijing, officers pledged to further build their military ties.

“Russia is ready to make joint efforts with China to lift the relationship to a new high,” said Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff of the armed forces of Russia. “The bilateral, state-to-state and military-to-military ties between China and Russia have entered a new stage.”

PLA armed helicopters take part in the “Peace Mission 2014” drill on Aug 29, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]

SCO members have conducted anti-terror drills codenamed “Peace Mission” since 2005, with China, Russia and Kazakhstan taking turns hosting.

Seven thousand troops participated in this latest joint drill, whose main phase was at the Zhurihe training base in China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

Under the drill’s scenario, a separatist organization supported by an international terrorist group had supposedly hatched a coup to divide an SCO nation. The nation asks the SCO for assistance, and joint forces are dispatched to suppress the insurgency with United Nations consent.

The PLA takes part in the closing ceremony of the “Peace Mission 2014” drill, Aug 29, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]

First, drones and helicopters were used to count and locate the “terrorists”. Then a reconnaissance and strike drone destroyed the “enemy’s” command vehicle with a missile.

Airstrikes followed artillery fire by joint armored carriers and tank units, which attacked the mountainous region where the terrorists were hiding and wiped out their main forces. Finally, the joint forces surrounded and eliminated the remnants of the enemy.

The five countries, troops began training together a week before the drill started, on Aug 17. During that time, their soldiers and officers had a chance to get to know each other through recreational activities such as tug of war, ballgames and martial music concerts.

PLA artillery troops participate in a joint military exercise organized by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization drill in Zhurihe on Aug 29, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]

According to Wang Ning, chief director of the joint directing department of the exercise, this “Peace Mission” drill was the largest ever, involving some 440 pieces of military hardware, as well as 70 aircraft.

There has been sharp interest in “Peace Mission 2014”, not only due to the drill itself but because of recent events.

In the past, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have all found themselves faced with challenges from terrorist forces such as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement.

But this year, at least five deadly attacks by terrorists and religious extremists linked to the Xinjiang autonomous region have occurred in northwest China.

China seeks peace in the neighboring provinces in order to better deal with island disputes in the East China Sea, while Russia seeks stability in Central Asian countries in order to deal with the Ukraine crisis.

A week earlier, Japan’s military showcased its ability to defend remote islands, aiming at repelling a hypothetical invasion.

In South Korea, 50,000 soldiers and 30,000 United States counterparts took part in a drill that ended Aug 29 and simulated a response to a nuclear attack.