Russia and China will conduct joint military training in the Qingtongxia Joint Tactical Training Base in Northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region from August 9 to August 13, 2021, GlobalTimes reports.
The joint strategic exercise is named “The Zapad/Interaction-2021”. According to the spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defence, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, the subject of this upcoming military exercise is jointly safeguarding regional security and stability. It is noted that a land-air integrated joint operation will be targeted at training to combat forces that endanger regional security, namely the forces of terrorism, extremism, and separatism. The countries 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.
According to Newsweek, this is the fourth consecutive such training held by the Russian and Chinese militaries after the Vostok (East) 2018, Tsentr (Centre) 2019, and Kavkaz (Caucasus) 2020 exercises, all of which were held across different regions of Russia. Importantly, this will also be the first joint training to be held in China since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, which demonstrates that the mutual trust of the Chinese and Russian armed forces is increasing in earnest. In addition, it is said that due to the US-led Western countries’ continued suppression, the two countries are forced to forge closer military cooperation.
It is mentioned in Newsweek that the training was supposed to take place as the USA pulls the last of its troops from neighbouring Afghanistan, “a nation in which both China and Russia seek to invest in long-term stability”. It is noted that as for whether the joint exercise is related to the situation in Afghanistan, the key point lies in whether Afghanistan will still suffer from threats from the “three forces”. Therefore, the training is not aimed at a specific party but at evil forces.
As a Chinese military expert, Song Zhongping, bewares, Washington may drive a wedge in Central Asia, threatening China-Russia relations or even the cohesion and unity of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Zhongping emphasized that 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”. The expert claimed that “Beijing and Moscow are important backbone forces for maintaining regional peace and stability”.