Monday, July 30, 2007
Peace Mission 2007
China is sending 1600 military personnel and dispatched 16 Mi-17 transport helicopters and 16 Z-9 attack helicopters that left an airbase in Xinjiang and are flying directly to the exercise site in Chelyabinsk. Other Chinese forces entered Russia by train. This is the first time that units of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have entered Russian territory to carry out joint exercises and also marks a test of China’s capability to project power over long distances.
"This is the first time the PLA has sent so many soldiers and armaments so far," Qiu Yanhan, deputy commander of the Chinese contingent, said in comments to Xinhua.
Guo Boxiong, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, was hopeful that the SCO exercise “would help strengthen relations between the militaries of SCO members and enhance cooperation in defense security.”
This is important. What made NATO a successful alliance was that, over time, the military forces of the allied countries developed close working relations and a “comfort level” in carrying out joint operations. We aren’t talking about a large number of forces here—but every joint exercise builds up a foundation. I have heard some Chinese begin to refer to the SCO as a “NATO – East”—perhaps a premature assessment, but a sense of where some in Beijing at least view the likely outcome of such cooperation.
Of course, Russian Lt.-General Vladimir Moltenskoy took pains to stress that “Peace Mission 2007” is “not targeted against a third state”—the diplomatic code being that these exercises are not meant to have an anti-American cast to them.
I think we can agree. But what these exercises are meant to demonstrate is that Eurasia doesn’t need a U.S. security presence, thank you very much—that the United States is not an “indispensable nation” in this part of the world.
The SCO announced that dozens of journalists have been accredited to observe the exercises. It will be interesting to see how many Americans are present—and how much reporting we see in the U.S. press.
All very true, since the US has demonstrated no ability to solve Eurasian security problems, but worsens them instead.
I expect the SCO will do a better job of it, since the governments involved have an actual interest in stability in Asia.
The US on the other hand wants precipitous declines in Chinese and Russian power, and is willing to provoke upheaval to get it.
On August 16, the leaders of the SOC countries - Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov and Uzbek President Islam Karimov - will meet in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
The next day, they will watch the final phase of "Peace Mission 2007."