The Cobra Gold 2014 multilateral military exercise opened on Feb. 11 in Thailand's Phitsanulok. China has sent troops to attend the military exercise for the first time. Seventeen Chinese soldiers, mainly from the Guangzhou Military Area Command, will participate in humanitarian relief drills.
In the opinion of Du Wenlong, a military expert, this innovative move indicates a noticeable rise in China's regional military influence. He considers that China's status and function in this type of exercise will become more and more important.
According to reports, the conventional Cobra Gold exercise includes three major elements: command post, humanitarian rescue, and field operations. The Chinese squad will take part in operations at the command and coordination center, engineering assistance, and medical aid, as well as in discussions and exchanges on military medical science.
Du Wenlong sees it as an innovative move for China to dispatch troops to participate in Cobra Gold for the first time. It is a large-scale broad-based military exercise led by the United States and Thailand. As a neighbor to Thailand, China has previously taken part in the capacity of observer. This time, China has changed its role to that of a "team member". This indicates that the rise of Chinese military capacity and influence in this region cannot be ignored.
In addition, Du Wenlong also holds the view that China's participation in Cobra Gold will go through a transformation process from easy and light involvement to deeper and more challenging roles. China's profile and participation in this type of exercise will further rise in the future, and China's status and function will become increasingly important.