Asia-Pacific

Viewpoints

Russia and China: Joint Military Exercises

Chinese tanks and marines participate in an amphibious assault drill

Chinese tanks and marines participate in an amphibious assault drill during joint military exercises with Russia. (Photo: AFP / AFP-Getty Images)

Russia and China conducted their first joint military exercises, dubbed “Peace Mission 2005,” last week. Many observers contend that the maneuvers were meant to send a clear message to the United States, Japan, and the rest of the world that the jury is still out over power in Taiwan and Central Asia.

TAIPEI — Taiwan Daily (liberal, pro-independence), Aug. 21: “If one wants to analyze why China and Russia want to jointly start such military drills, a relatively more reasonable answer will be that China wants to use this military exercise to make a show of its force to the ‘U.S.-Japan security alliance.’ Russia, on the other hand, is attempting to use this drill to release the strategic pressure it encounters in East Europe and Central Asia. … The situation on the Korean peninsula will be the next [that is worth observation]. Since both China and Russia are participants of the Six Party Talks as well as standing members of the U.N. Security Council, the joint Sino-Russia military drill will not only attempt to place pressure on the ‘U.S.-Japan alliance’ but will also seek to form a new alliance among the participants of the Six Party Talks. China has already [succeeded in] maintaining a close relationship with South Korea. If it could create a new cooperative relationship with Russia following the joint military exercise and apply it on the Korean peninsula, it will be able to form a confrontational situation between the ‘China-Russia-Seoul-Pyongyang’ [force] and the ‘U.S.-Japan alliance’ once the fourth round of Six Party Talks is resumed.”
— Lai I-chung

LONDON — Financial Times (centrist), Aug. 19: “’Peace Mission 2005,’ the first joint military exercise launched yesterday by China and Russia, is not the innocent peacekeeping drill its name suggests. It represents a significant deepening of the military relationship between a former superpower and an emerging one, and therefore will be closely watched by the only current superpower, the U.S. … If these war games were really about peacekeeping, they would not require the mock amphibious assaults, attack submarines and Russian long-range strategic bombers that military analysts say are involved. …”

SINGAPORE — Business Times (pro-government, financial), Aug. 19: “The growing American preoccupation with the Middle East has come with a major cost. Since 9/11 and against the backdrop of the mess in Iraq, the United States has been less engaged in dealing with the core geo-political and geo-economic problems of East Asia. If anything, American approach towards East Asia has been dominated by reactive and ad-hoc policies centered mostly on security issues, and in particular, the North Korean nuclear crisis and Taiwan. Even more troubling has been the failure of the Bush administration to develop a coherent strategy towards China. Instead, U.S. policy towards Beijing is looking more and more like a set of confused responses to the pressures coming from a coalition of protectionists, neoconservative ideologues and China bashers. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the United States is finding itself more and more marginalized in the political and economic changes that are taking place in East Asia as it faces a more diplomatically engaged and energetic China.”

TOKYO — Sankei Shimbun (right-wing), Aug. 19: “The first joint-military exercise between China and Russia, ‘Peace Mission 2005,’ has begun. Both countries say that the exercise ‘is not targeted against a third country.’ However, it appears that it [exercise] is targeting the ‘common strategic goal’ of the Japanese-U.S. alliance, as it includes training based on the supposition of ‘landing in Taiwan,’ among other things. China is definitely accelerating the modernization of its military, and we cannot help but have concerns over it. … Such moves reflect the joint interests of China and Russia of opposing U.S. rule by reinforcing military cooperation. … The primary purpose of the plan for the joint-exercise, which China proposed one year ago, was to ‘train for anti-terrorism.’ However, on the exercise plan this time, it appears that Russia’s intention is to urge the Chinese side to conduct exercises in which the Russia side will mobilize the latest equipment. … Along with its economic development, China has modernized its weapons and equipment. However, in recent years, it is placing emphasis on reinforcing its air and naval power. It [the reinforcement] is on the supposition of a contingency over Taiwan, and it is believed that it is based on a strategy to prevent U.S. military intervention. …”

TAIPEI — Taipei Times (liberal, pro-independence, English language), Aug. 19: “It is not difficult to see what the real target of such an exercise is. … Although Russia’s overall military power still lags behind that of the U.S., it is still more powerful than that of China. … This is an indirect indication of an improvement in Chinese-Russian relations, as both nations share the aim of increasing their influence in the Asia-Pacific region. The Russian government has attached considerable importance to these exercises. … The U.S. has shown interest in both the scope and format of the drills, as well as the effectiveness of the weapons that are employed. Washington is even more interested to learn about their methods of communication, the command and control mechanism, the application of electronic parameters and the exchange of intelligence between the two nations. The exercises are expected to have a significant impact on the balance of power in Asia and are also an opportunity for China and Russia to make the U.S. take note of their growing military strength. …”
— Chang Yan-ting

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