Chinese and Russian troops started a cynosural 8-day military exercise in Russia's coastal city Vladivostok on Thursday, marking the first-ever war game between the two countries.
After conducting a brief high-level strategic consultations for the exercise, Liang Guanglie, chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army and his Russian counterpart Yury Baluyevsky jointly announced the official commencement of the military exercises at around 11:00 a.m. local time (8:00 a.m. Beijing time) in the base of Russia's Pacific Fleet on Thursday.
The exercise, code-named "Peace Mission 2005," is scheduled to involve nearly 10,000 troops from the two armies, navies, air forces as well as airborne units, marine corps and logistic units, according to an earlier announcement made by the Chinese Ministry of Defense.
Four hours after the commencement, the first phase of the military maneuvers officially started with staff officers carrying out strategic consultations and battle planning at the order of the chiefs of the general staff of the two armed forces.
While attending a press conference later in the morning, Liang denied the military exercise aims at any third party, concerns the interests of any third country or will pose threat to any country.
The participating troops will focus on the maneuvers of strategic consultations and battle planning, transportation and deployment of troops, and combat practice, said Liang.
Baluyevsky, Liang's Russian counterpart, said the holding of the joint military exercises does not mean that the two countries want to form a military bloc in any form.
According to the two generals, the joint military drills target at deeper mutual trust and friendship, and better cooperation and coordination between the two armed forces so as to improve their capabilities to deal with new challenges and threats.
To be more specific, the war game showcasing the two countries' military might is aimed to help them get ready for a joint fight against international terrorists, national separatists and religious extremists, said Sergey N. Goncharov, charge d'affaires of the Russian Embassy in China, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua in Beijing on Thursday.
According to the Russian diplomat, the forces of terrorism, extremism and separatism have conducted activities in both China and Russia, and have been growing in the member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which groups China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
"Let them have a look at our joint military exercises and think it over whether it is worth continuing their activities," said Goncharov, adding, "We hope the joint military exercises could help cool down the 'fervor' of these terrorists, separatists and extremists."
The diplomat expressed hopes that similar drills would be held within the SCO framework in the future, which he said might involve more troops.
Defense ministers and military experts of the SCO member nations, and their ambassadors and military attaches to China have been invited to observe the exercise.
Representatives of SCO observer countries such as Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Iran are also invited to watch the military exercise, according to military sources.
According to the schedule, the second and third phases of the 8-day mission will be staged in China's Shandong Peninsula and its neighboring sea area.