Foreign military officers training in Beijing feel an urgency to work closely with China

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2017/10/31 19:08:40

○ More than 100 senior military officers from about 80 different countries joined a PLA symposium to share their thoughts on the 19th CPC National Congress

○ International College of Defense Studies of China's National Defense University has trained over 10,000 foreign officers from 160 countries over the past six decades

○ International military community consider the 19th CPC National Congress is meaningful to the world

Foreign military officers from about 100 countries participate in a symposium on Saturday in Beijing to share their thoughts on the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Photo: Courtesy of Liang Liang

Foreign military officers participating in a symposium praised China's grand and practical development plans in the military and other fields mapped out by the 19th Communist Party of China National Congress.

More than 100 senior military officers from about 80 different countries who studied at China's National Defense University (NDU) of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) shared their thoughts about the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the nation's military reform.

At Saturday's symposium in NDU's International College of Defense Studies (ICDS), Beijing, 16 foreign officers from countries including Pakistan, Italy, Brazil, Iran, Nigeria and the Philippines gave presentations about their understanding of the work report of the 19th National Congress of the CPC delivered by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, and also their analysis of China's foreign and defense policies in regards to their own respective regions.

These senior foreign officers are mostly brigadier generals, colonels or commodores from Southeast Asia, Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. They were selected by their countries and sent to ICDS for strategic and defense studies courses. The training duration is normally one year.

ICDS has trained at least 10,000 foreign military officers from 160 countries over the past six decades. Many of its alumni rose to becoming military leaders or high ranking government officials, including eight state leaders such as late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.  

"Learning to know the CPC is essential for the international community to understand China," Major General Xu Hui, commandant of the ICDS of NDU, said to those foreign military officers during his opening remark at the event.

The participants spoke highly of China's development and reform led by the CPC, and the contributions that China continues to make to the world. "China's increasing military presence around the world will benefit the world order, and for local countries, the PLA would be more welcomed than other major power's military forces in many regions," said Captain Shafquat Hussain Akhtar from Pakistani Navy.

Confidence regained

Foreign officers attending ICDS not only study modern China and its military, but also have the opportunity to learn Chinese history. Before the 19th CPC National Congress, ICDS arranged for these foreign officers to visit Yan'an in Shaanxi Province, considered the "holy land" of China's communist revolution.

"In Yan'an, we were able to verify the growth and the organization of the CPC Central Committee, the history of the Long March, the war against the Japanese aggression, and especially for me, the Spirit of Yan'an, guided under the leadership of Chairman Mao Zedong," Colonel Marcelo Zucco from Brazil said.

The Yan'an spirit - "a combination of determination, commitment and optimism about the Chinese course of revolution," according to Zucco - was born from a poor, agricultural region devastated by war and has long been considered the soul of the Chinese nation.

"Chinese people should be proud of their country and their Party," Brigade General Jean Farah from Lebanon told the Global Times. "I just give you a small example what I saw in Yan'an: in many mountains with no man, numerous trees were planted to prevent desertification. There is nothing like this in the Middle East. So in China, even in small villages or the countryside, people can be organized perfectly by the Party and the government to finish massive works."

Farah added that, under the leadership of the CPC, 1.3 billion people are now united; other countries' political parties cannot compare to the CPC in terms of governing such a huge country.

Captain Melded Yussuff from Nigerian Navy told the Global Times that the CPC's five-year plan is very impressive to him, because it can guarantee that China will achieve great goals step by step.

Modernization ≠ Westernization

Many great goals that Xi mentioned in his work report, including turning the PLA into the world's leading military force by 2050, might seem distant. But if China can follow its five-year plan to achieve specific goals one by one under the certainty and continuity provided by the CPC's leadership, Captain Yussuff believes the country will achieve these goals.

Former prime minister of Kyrgyzstan Djoomart Otorbaev, who was invited to join the symposium, said in his remarks Saturday at ICDS that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world "lost faith" in socialism, including Kyrgyzstan, which was part of the Soviet Union. But Otorbaev believes that modern China has made the world rethink this.

"China has proved to us that modernization does not equal Westernization," David Gosset, director of the Euro-China Centre for International and Business Relations, who has also invited to the event, said in his remarks Saturday.

In his work report of the 19th CPC National Congress, Xi said that, by 2050, China will have become a great, modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful.

"In 2050, I believe that China will show the strength of socialism again and socialism will relive in our world," Otorbaev said.

No strings attached

In Xi's speech to the 19th CPC national congress, the most impressive part for Nigeria's Yussuff was about the community of common destiny for mankind. "I am thinking about how this thought could be applied to other regions of the world, to Africa and my country Nigeria," he said.

"China has a long-lasting great relationship with African countries and contributes the largest percentage of the UN's Peacekeeping mission in Africa, it fights against Ebola with us side by side, and has also done a lot to support economic development for the continent. "Take my country as an example. China has assisted Nigeria greatly," Yussuff said.

Nigeria has suffered from many security issues, Yussuff explained. "We have Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria and militants in the south, and although the US has cooperation with Nigeria to provide arms and ammunition, the US adds lots of obstacles for us," he said.

Boko Haram is an Islamic extremist terrorist group based in northeastern Nigeria, but also active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon. The group had alleged links to al-Qaeda, and in 2015 it announced its allegiance to ISIS.

"The US's reasons are mostly about that Nigeria has 'human rights violations' or 'instability' issues, and that the US is not sure about how Nigeria will use these arms and ammunition, But the fact is, without peace and stability, there is no way a country can grow economically, so how can its human rights be improved?" Yussuff asked.

A clean history

Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria's then vice-president, told the Financial Times in 2006 that the US had been too slow to help protect the oil-rich Niger Delta from a growing insurgency, which compelled Nigeria to turn to China for help.

China understands this fact perfectly, Yussuff said. "China provides unconditional support for us so that we can quickly execute military operations. That's why we can have peace and stability, and then we have more cooperation with China and boost economic development. In this case, you can see how a win-win cooperation works between China and Nigeria. That's why I believe China's community of common destiny is realistic and can be applied in Africa and even the rest of the world."

"Unlike the US, China never puts conditions for us and other African partners when providing support, and this is very critical. China is definitely more welcome than the US in Africa," he added.

The Middle East shares similar feelings. "Unlike other major powers with a history of invasion and colonialism, China has a clean history with the Middle East. Hundreds of years ago, China's powerful fleet [Zheng He's treasure voyages during the Ming Dynasty(1368-1644)] visited the Middle East and Africa before any Western countries, but only for trade and diplomacy - not invasion and colonization," Farah from Lebanon's military said.

"Therefore, in the Chinese nation's genes, there is no such thing as colonialism and hegemony. To be honest, if the Belt and Road initiative was initiated by other major powers, we would be suspicious and think about what its real purpose is. But for China, we have no concerns and fully welcome it," Farah said.

From tension to partnership

In 2016, Sino-Filipino relations were tense due to the South China Sea issue, but just one year later China had become the Philippines' closest partner in both economic and security issues.

Lieutenant Colonel Reynaldo Gabiñete from the Philippine Air Force told the Global Times that the primary reason for the renewed cooperation was that, under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte, an independent foreign policy has been implemented.

"With China's sincere assistance and rapprochement on defense relations, defense cooperation between the two countries had been further strengthened, in particular, in the fight against terrorism, maritime cooperation focusing on humanitarian assistance and disaster response, vital information sharing and anti-piracy operations among others, including anti-drug operations. The Philippines has always regarded China as an important neighbor, friend and partner," he said.

On October 5, China provided 3,000 assault rifles worth $3.3 million to the Philippine National Police Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told Reuters that "we are lucky that the Chinese government provided the firearms."

Newspaper headline: Brothers in Arms


blog comments powered by Disqus