China to join Vostok-2022 Russia with other countries; closer China-Russia ties 'crucial to defend global stability to counter US hegemony'
Closer China-Russia ties crucial to defend global stability to counter US hegemony: analysts
Published: Aug 18, 2022 09:49 PM
The armored assault group rumbles ahead to launch an assault against the forward position of mock terrorists in the China-Russia joint military exercise ZAPAD/INTERACTION-2021 at a training base of the PLA Army in Qingtongxia City of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region from August 9 to 13, 2021. Photo:China Military

The armored assault group rumbles ahead to launch an assault against the forward position of mock terrorists in the China-Russia joint military exercise ZAPAD/INTERACTION-2021 at a training base of the PLA Army in Qingtongxia City of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region from August 9 to 13, 2021. Photo:China Military

Chinese troops will go to Russia to participate in the joint military exercises Vostok-2022 with Russia and other countries, according to China's Defense Ministry and experts pointed out that one focus of this year's combined training is to deal with potential threat from the direction of the Pacific Ocean. The cooperation in military and other fields between China and Russia will be further improved despite the increasing hype that the US and the West are the only ones committed in the mission of defending regional and global stability.

China's participation in the military exercises was in accordance with the annual plan for cooperation between the militaries of China and Russia and the bilateral agreements. It has nothing to do with the current international and regional situation, China's Ministry of National Defense said in a statement on Wednesday.

The statement also noted that the aim for the PLA to participate in the exercises is to deepen concrete and friendly cooperation with militaries from other countries that also attend the exercises and to improve the strategic coordination and capability in dealing with different security threats. India, Belarus, Mongolia, Tajikistan and other countries will also attend the joint military exercises. 

In July, the Russian Defense Ministry announced to hold the Vostok-2022 exercises from August 30 to September 5. And the exercises will practice employing combat groups in ensuring military security in the eastern region and the drills will bring together the airborne force, long-range and military transport aircraft and also military contingents from other countries, according to Russian news agency TASS. 

The Vostok-2022 will take place in Russia's eastern region, while Russian troops in the western and southern regions have played a bigger role in the conflict with Ukraine. By holding this year's drills, Russia also wants to show that is has the capability to defend national security in multiple directions, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

The US and Western media have also paid close attention to the drills against the backdrop of the current Russia-Ukraine conflict. Some even claimed that Russia is allegedly carrying out some mobilization measures. The Russian defense ministry refuted the disinformation and said in a statement in July that only a part of the Russian Armed Forces is involved in the special military operation in Ukraine and the drills will be provided with the required personnel, armaments, military hardware and materiel.

A China-Russia joint naval ships formation sails in the East China Sea on October 23, 2021. Photo: Li Tang

A China-Russia joint naval ships formation sails in the East China Sea on October 23, 2021. Photo: Li Tang

Russia's strategic command and staff drills are very significant and have been held annually for the past four years in different regions. In 2021, Belarus, India, Pakistan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Sri Lanka attended the Zapad-2021 drills in Russia's Nizhny Novgorod region, analysts said.

China attended the previous three strategic drills and had reportedly sent a lot of troops to overseas in 2018, according to analysts on military. The Chinese military did not participate in the 2021 edition as in August 2021 China and Russia held joint military drills. 

Compared to the previous four drills, which focused more on fighting against separatism, terrorism and extremism, Vostok-2022 will combine exercises in traditional and non-traditional fields and also take target drills on possible threats especially from the US in the Pacific Ocean direction, Song said.

China and Russia, as comprehensive strategic partners of coordination for a new era, have improved cooperation in all sectors and so were exchanges in military, including on military technologies, weaponry and having combined trainings, Song noted. 

The Vostok-2022 exercises are first and foremost prescribed drills every year but this year's drills have been used by the US and the West to further hype China and Russia threats under special circumstances, especially in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the unstable situation across the Taiwan Straits, Cui Heng, an assistant research fellow from the Center for Russian Studies of East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Wednesday that Washington is troubled by the "burgeoning relationship in the security realm" between Moscow and Beijing after Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's provocative trip to the island of Taiwan.

In response to the US and West's hyping, Song said that the answer to why China and Russia need to further their cooperation is clear because the world is facing various threats and the two countries with their comprehensive strategic partnership need to strengthen cooperation to defend regional and global stability. 

"As the two countries have entered into the comprehensive strategic partnership in the new era, the cooperation between the two militaries will surely be further improved. If the US can rally allies in the EU and in Asia to conduct militaries globally with NATO members, South Korea, Japan, Australia or other countries, why can't China have military drills with Russia?" Song asked. He noted that compared to the those of the US and its allies, China and Russia's drills are restrained, although such joint exercises between the two countries will become frequent and normalized. 

The US has conducted multiple military drills with its Asian allies and will do so in the coming months. For example, from August 8 to 14, the US, Japan and South Korea participated in a missile warning and ballistic missile search and tracking exercise during the multinational Pacific Dragon exercise off the coast of the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii. And From August 22 to September 1, the US and South Korea will have their biggest combine military training with potentially tens of thousands of troops involved, US media reported. 

Analysts said that the US and the West have ramped up efforts in demonizing Russia since the Ukraine crisis and compared the situation in Ukraine with the Taiwan Straits to hype "China threats." They have taken China and Russia as a major threat to US' global hegemony and the last thing they want to see is better and closer relations of the two countries. 

It is a rational choice for China and Russia to embrace and help each other as they face US' efforts aimed at containing them, Cui said, highlighting that it is also a general trend to strengthen military cooperation between the two countries, which however, has nothing to do with the conflict between Russia and Ukraine but is rooted in the continuous strengthening of hegemony and unilateralism pursued by the US since the 20th century. 

Cui said that China and Russia's cooperation is a positive force to defend the international order amid the challenges the US and its allies posed.

Experts also noted that the bilateral cooperation between China and Russia is an indispensable and constructive force for regional security, especially in Eurasia. The US has made a lot of troubles in the region, countries like Afghanistan and Syria are still suffering from the destruction caused by US-inflicted wars, and it is not only the neighboring countries like China and Russia that have to clean up the mess.

On the one hand, the US-led West made up the "China threat" and "Russia threat" to reshape NATO and other alliances, for the sake of forcing them to rely more on the US. On the other hand, the so-called threats from China and Russia have enabled US domestic military-industrial financial groups to ask Congress for more military budgets, Cui said.