Christopher Bodeen / Associated Press & Tim Johnson / Knight Ridder – 2005-09-28 09:32:45
China Launches Major War Games
Christopher Bodeen / Associated Press
(September 27, 2005) — China on Tuesday launched major annual war games in Inner Mongolia, pitting 16,000 troops against each other in a mock battle observed by military officers from a record 24 nations.
Code-named “North Sword 2005,” the exercise was being held at the sprawling Zhurihe training base amid dry grasslands about 310 miles northeast of Beijing, the Shanghai Daily newspaper and other official media reported.
Now in at least their fourth year, the exercises mark a major push toward integrated training involving the army, air force and other branches of the military in battlefield conditions.
The Xinhua News Agency said the exercises posed a “blue army” engaging in a lightening two-pronged attack on a “red army.” The mock assault involved hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles, more than 100 artillery pieces and a helicopter squadron, it said.
It called the exercise an “unrehearsed experimental confrontation drill” involving airborne and armored brigades with no preordained outcome.
“What the foreign observers see and hear is entirely the actual situation on the People’s Liberation Army’s exercise field,” it said, using the formal name for China’s military.
Forty foreign military personnel were on hand for the exercise, Xinhua said, saying they represented the largest number of nations invited to watch the war games since Beijing began allowing such observers in 2002. They included officers from the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Australia, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang.
“It will help our practical exchanges, and enhance our mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation between China’s military and foreign militaries in terms of military training,” Qin said at a regular briefing.
China has vigorously stepped-up training of its 2.5 million-member armed forces in the past five years, focusing on Taiwan, the self-governing island Beijing claims as its own territory.
With the settling of border disputes with Russia and Central Asian states, Beijing has been able to save money and manpower formerly deployed on its northern and eastern flanks and focus on its coastal regions.
Rapid economic growth in recent years has also led to double-digit increases in budgets for the People’s Liberation Army.
The military has been steadily trimming its vast but poorly trained troops and stressing high-tech warfare. It has ditched Mao Zedong’s strategy of “People’s war,” which emphasized using rural guerrilla forces.
China has become one of the biggest customers for ultramodern planes and naval craft from Russia. Deployment of high-tech Chinese-made computer and communications equipment has also greatly boosted commanders’ abilities to direct forces in the field.
At the same time, the PLA is reaching out to Russia, France, Pakistan and others with joint training missions emphasizing both humanitarian and war-fighting missions.
The invitations to foreign military observers, according to state media reports citing military leaders, reflect China’s growing confidence in its forces, as well as a desire for more exchanges with other countries’ militaries.
“The move is also meant to promote mutual trust and understanding, and deepen friendship and cooperation between China and foreign armed forces,” Xinhua said, adding the exercises would be followed by academic discussions between Chinese and foreign officers.
Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press
China turns to Russia for Big-ticket Military Items
Tim Johnson / Knight Ridder
BEIJING (September 27, 2005) — Reaching into its deepening pockets, China has gone shopping for new weapons in Russia and, to a lesser extent, in Israel and Ukraine.
Russia has been delivering an average of $2 billion a year worth of equipment to China since 2000, handing over fighter jets, missile systems, submarines and destroyers.
China accounts for 30 percent to 50 percent of Russia’s weapons exports, keeping its arms industry healthy, and it has attempted to leverage that clout to extract new military technologies from Moscow.
“The Russians held the line at the beginning. But as they get deeper in with the Chinese, they are finding the Chinese pressing for the good stuff,” said James Mulvenon, a specialist on the Chinese military at the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis, a Washington consultancy.
Two new Kilo-class fleet attack submarines are now piggy-backed on ships sailing from a St. Petersburg shipyard to China, joining four already delivered, Mulvenon said. The Kilo class is one of the most advanced and quietest diesel-battery submarines in the world, likely equipped with supersonic anti-ship missiles.
Like much of Russia’s arms exports to China, “nothing is dumbed down,” Mulvenon said.
Russian collaboration has allowed China to amass a fleet of fighter aircraft able to fly longer range in worse weather and carry more lethal weapons, totaling some 200 Russian Su-27 and Su-30 jet fighters and bombers. China is shopping now for Russian aerial refueling tankers and aircraft for surveillance and target detection, as well as strategic bombers.
Russia showed off the aircraft, as well as long-range TU-95MS and TU-23M3 bombers, during unprecedented joint Sino-Russian war games in late August near the Yellow Sea. Some 10,000 troops from both nations were deployed in the exercises.
“There is no better advertisement for our arms and military hardware than a real demonstration of their capabilities in the course of practical exercises,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said as the exercises unfolded.
China’s navy already is equipped with several Sovremenny-class guided missile destroyers, which Russian defense firms outfitted with sophisticated radar systems.
For its part, Ukraine has sold China gas turbine power plants used in destroyers and is in talks on offering heavy-transport aircraft and aerospace technology.
China’s arms-buying relationship with Israel dates to the early 1980s. Israel began selling arms to Beijing in a bid to limit Chinese assistance to its foes in the Middle East.
“Israel does not sell any platforms, like aircraft or ships. It basically sells avionics, upgrading, (and) electronic surveillance,” said P.R. Kumaraswamy, an expert on Israeli military industries at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
The relationship has proved thorny, straining Israel’s relationship with Washington. U.S. officials first grew angry when Israel helped China develop its F-10 fighter jet, almost identical to the Israeli Lavi fighter, which was designed with more than $1 billion in U.S. aid.
In 2000, an angry White House thwarted Israel’s plans to go through with a potential $1 billion deal to equip China with the Phalcon radar system.
A new crisis erupted this year in April. Washington grew angry that Israel appeared to be responding to a Chinese request to upgrade Israeli-made Harpy attack drones. The Harpy drones, first sold in 1997, can destroy enemy radar transmitters. The Pentagon subsequently announced restrictions on sharing information with Israel.
After months of wrangling, the Pentagon said Aug. 16 that Israel had pledged to consult more closely with Washington on military sales to China.
Copyright © 2005 KnightRidder.com
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