China’s participation in the joint military exercise between China and Russia, dubbed Vostok-2018 or East-2018, which took place from Sept. 11 to 17, indicates strengthened military cooperation and bilateral ties between the two sides, an expert noted.
China and Russia have been deepening military cooperation for more than a decade, evidenced by an increased frequency of joint military drills, said Jiang Yi, a researcher of Institute of Russian, Eastern European & Central Asian Studies, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
For example, both took part in a joint military drill in Russia this August, which was held by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), marking the most recent in a number of joint naval drills conducted over recent years.
The U.S. Newsweek also quoted an analyst as saying the Sino-Russian military exercise showcases close ties between the two countries, rather than suggesting the manifestation of Russia’s military strength.
While Chinese-Russian military activities have, in the past, been predominantly symbolic and representational, they appear increasingly interactive, said an article published by the National Interest of the U.S. recently.
The U.S. Wall Street Journal and Washington Post both pointed out that China and Russia are stepping up their efforts to promote military reform and modernization.
The deepening trust between the two sides provides valuable resources for China, allowing the country access to Russia’s military technologies and the opportunity to learn from the latter’s combat experience in Syria and Ukraine, the media commented.
The drills, described by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as the largest since 1981, involved almost 300,000 Russian troops, over 1,000 military aircraft, 36,000 tanks and other military vehicles, as well as 80 warships.
It marked China’s first time participating in an exercise of this kind and also the largest Chinese military delegation to join a military exercise in a foreign country, according to the Information Telegraph Agency of Russia (ITAR-TASS).
Media sources noted that 3,200 Chinese troops, along with more than 1,000 armored vehicles and 30 military aircraft entered Russia to take part in the exercise.
The drills were aimed at consolidating and developing the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, said Senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of National Defense.
The exercise will “further strengthen both sides’ ability to deal with varied security threats, which is conducive to safeguarding regional peace and security”, he said.
The drill does not target any third party, nor is it related to any regional situation, the spokesperson added.