Skip to comments.China-Russia exercises send a message to U.S.
Posted on 08/18/2005 8:51:55 PM PDT by neverdem
BEIJING As they begin their largest military exercise in modern history, China and Russia have billed this week's maneuvers as a cooperative fight against terrorism. But they're also sending a message to Washington, analysts say: Don't push the two former Cold War adversaries too far.
The eight-day exercise, which begins today, will be the most extensive since Beijing and Moscow fought together against U.S.-led forces during the Korean War half a century ago. Originally billed as a modest exercise when proposed last year, it has grown in scope to include nearly 10,000 troops using a range of sophisticated weapons systems.
Analysts agree Russia and China are unlikely to team up against a common foe. They say the maneuvers are more of an exhibition of Russian arms including its long-range strategic bombers, which can carry nuclear weapons in the hope of luring Chinese buyers.
Still, both countries will be looking to prove their military might during the eight days of war games on the Shandong peninsula.
The U.S. Defense Department said last month that China's military was increasingly seeking to modernize and could become a threat in the Asia-Pacific region as it looked to spread its influence.
Showing its stuff
The Russian military is also eager to show it still has muscle despite much-publicized woes. Its weaknesses were highlighted again earlier this month when Russia had to call for outside help to rescue seven men stranded in a mini-submarine off its Pacific coast.
"Part of the exercise is beach landing and sea-air deployment, which has nothing to do with fighting terrorism," said Ni Lexiong, a military expert teaching at Shanghai Normal University. "Generally, it's being held because of the long-term U.S. aggressive military stance toward China and Russia."
Even as the Bush administration expresses growing concern about China's military buildup, Beijing and Moscow have bridled at America's recent moves in their back yard.
They include announced troop redeployments in South Korea and Japan designed to create a leaner, more-responsive force as well as the redeployment of long-range bombers and nuclear attack submarines to Guam, part of a stated goal of bolstering the U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
Also worrisome, particularly for Moscow, has been the United States' expanding military presence in oil-rich Central Asia, part of Russia's traditional sphere of influence. The former Soviet states of Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan have seen the toppling of their autocratic, Russian-leaning governments over the past 18 months, replaced by elected regimes that lean toward the West.
China and Russia are the dominant countries in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes four former Soviet republics in Central Asia and added Iran, India and Pakistan this year as observers. Representatives from the organization's countries have been invited to watch the exercises.
At a July summit, the organization called on Washington to set a date for the withdrawal from Central Asia, where its forces have been deployed since after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to help support operations in neighboring Afghanistan.
The United States had said it would withdraw from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan once combat operations in Afghanistan were finished. Last month, however, Uzbekistan ordered U.S. troops to leave the country within 180 days.
Analysts see limits to the Chinese-Russian relationship, however, with some characterizing the current exercise as a marriage of convenience. Even as ties increase, Moscow is thought to be wary of China's growing economic and political clout and fearful that the sparsely populated Russian Far East could become a de facto Chinese colony.
Drawing the line
Although it has provided an abundance of arms to China, Russia has balked at selling Beijing its most advanced military hardware and items it does sell may come with strings attached. Some Chinese Web sites suggest that Moscow sold Beijing SU-27 fighters on the condition that they remain south of the Yangtze River, a sizable distance from the Russian border.
Analysts have noted the involvement of Russia's Tu-95 strategic bombers and Tu-22M long-range bombers in this week's exercises warplanes that can carry conventional or nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and are not usually part of peacekeeping operations. The aircraft are expected to top China's shopping list both to deter U.S. assistance to Taiwan in the event of a conflict and project Chinese strength across the region.
During the drills, the Tu-95s will conduct demonstration flights in the area while the Tu-22Ms will test-fire missiles at ground targets, the deputy chief of Russia's Land Forces in charge of the exercise, Col. Gen. Vladimir Moltenskoi, said last week.
Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, head of the Russian armed forces general staff, said in a newspaper interview last week the aircraft were taking part because the exercises are being staged far from Russian bases and would help enforce a simulated aerial blockade. But Russia's air force chief said earlier this year that the bombers would be involved in the exercises to tempt Chinese buyers.
"These weapons that China is buying are clearly designed for a possible standoff over Taiwan," said Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent defense analyst based in Moscow.
The exercise will involve 1,800 Russian troops and nearly 8,000 of their Chinese counterparts as well as Russian anti-submarine vessels, a large landing ship, a destroyer and 17 long-distance military transport and fighter jets.
Analysts say the exercise's location reflects insecurity in both capitals over the breakup or further dissolution of their empires.
Russia reportedly wanted the exercise staged in Central Asia, while Beijing wanted it just off Taiwan, which it considers a renegade province. The area around the Shandong peninsula was reportedly a compromise to avoid a strong Washington response over Taiwan.
Even inside China, however, some analysts are quietly questioning Beijing's judgment in hosting such an ambitious exercise when its relations with Washington already are strained by a huge U.S. trade deficit, security tensions and the recent aborted bid by state-controlled CNOOC to take over the U.S. oil company Unocal.
The two then-communist allies fell out in the late 1950s and almost went to war, leading to decades of mutual suspicion. But a landmark agreement last year settling a series of disputes along their 2,700-mile border has removed a major irritant, and both sides are placing priority on improving relations.
Economic ties are expanding rapidly two-way trade in 2005 is expected to hit $25.2 billion, up 20 percent from last year's record level as Russia becomes an increasingly important energy supplier to China's booming economy.
Beyond the sales pitch, it seems highly unlikely Russia would ever join China in a fight over Taiwan, said Robert Karniol, Asia-Pacific editor for military journal Jane's Defense Weekly.
"There are no indications of coming together to form a strategic alliance of Moscow and Beijing," he said.
However, the exercises demonstrate a shift in the Chinese military's policy from its typical inward focus, Karniol said.
"They've come to increasingly accept multilateral solutions and accepted the understanding that there are things to learn from exercising with other countries," he said.
It serves them both right, for they richly deserve each other.
I didn't need to hear that China and Russia were having "exercises" in order to know that these two cannot be trusted and what their intentions are.
Putin is a fool to ally Russia with China.
Russia will be swallowed up.
We could obliterate every city in China and Russia and not miss breakfast.
You also need to know Russia, India and the U.S. are planning excercises together too.
Thanks for the links!
You're very welcome neverdem.
From time to time, Ill ping on noteworthy articles about politics, foreign and military affairs. FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.
If you're interested in what the Chinese Communists, also known as(aka) Chicoms, are up to with their Navy, aka PLAN, i.e. People's Liberation Army's Navy(?), then check out Jeff Head's link in comment# 2. Thanks Jeff, bookmarked!
Russia and China are more likely to be enemies than allies. China covets what it considers ancestral territories in Russia's southeast. Russia lacks the military manpower to guard its territory. Putin could be showing China his long-range technological muscle.
The age-old dance of major powers sizing each other up and carving out spheres of influence and alliances is underway on a global scale. The dance cards are filling up and I think Russia, India and Japan know who to waltz with. The Chinese can't be trusted.
Funny how everyone claims they don't like the U.S. these days, but they all seem to imitate us in a myriad of ways.
What's that saying about imitation and flattery?
>>Those uniforms sure look a lot like ours.
Looks a lot like woodland camo, which the Army is about to start moving away from. They're adopting something called the ACU, the Army Combat Uniform. The camo pattern looks similar to the Marines' new digicamo.
Thanks for the ping, neverdem; thanks Jeff, thanks Cindy.
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