‘Mil­i­tary drill isn’t tar­get­ing any na­tion’

Ma­neu­vers to test com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity, bet­ter pre­pare for se­cu­rity chal­lenge

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO SHENGNAN and ZHANG YUNBI

China re­jected any sug­ges­tion on Thurs­day that its on­go­ing mil­i­tary ex­er­cises, be­lieved to be some of the most ex­ten­sive off its eastern seaboard, sent a mes­sage to any coun­try.

These ex­er­cises are a rou­tine ar­range­ment in the an­nual train­ing plan, and the out­side world should not spec­u­late or read too much into it, Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense spokesman Geng Yan­sheng said at a reg­u­lar news brief­ing on Thurs­day. “If some­one feels un­easy or that they are be­ing tar­geted, it’s ab­so­lutely their own prob­lem,” he said.

Geng wa s re­spond­ing to mount­ing at­ten­tion in and out­side China to the on­go­ing drills, which are larger in scope and du­ra­tion than in years past. They have dis­rupted do­mes­tic civil air traf­fic and drawn spec­u­la­tion from some of China’s neigh­bors’ about Bei­jing’s in­ten­tions.

On Tues­day, China be­gan a five-day drill off its south­east coastal ar­eas in the East China Sea. Mean­while, on­go­ing drills off Beibu Bay near Viet­nam and in the Bo­hai Strait and the Yel­low Sea are sched­uled to end on Fri­day.

Geng said these drills are for test­ing com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity and im­prov­ing real-com­bat train­ing lev­els and mil­i­tary prepa­ra­tion for var­i­ous se­cu­rity chal­lenges.

How­ever, Ja­pan’s Asahi Shim­bun said on Sun­day the drills

If some­one feels un­easy or that they are be­ing tar­geted, it’s ab­so­lutely their own prob­lem.” GENG YAN­SHENG MIN­ISTRY OF NA­TIONAL DE­FENSE SPOKESMAN

were partly aimed at “con­tain­ing Ja­pan”, and the United States and Ja­pan are likely to be the “imag­i­nary en­emy”.

The Ja­panese news­pa­per Mainichi Shim­bun said the drill was made “in co­or­di­na­tion with com­mem­o­ra­tions re­gard­ing the Sino-Ja­panese War”, which aim at pub­li­ciz­ing the con­cept of “build­ing a stronger army”.

Jiang Xin­feng, an ex­pert on Ja­panese stud­ies at the Academy of Mil­i­tary Science of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army, said the larger scale is rea­son­able due to in­suf­fi­cient progress with China’s mil­i­tary mod­ern­iza­tion and com­bat ca­pa­bil­ity over the past decades.

on Tues­day off its south­east coastal ar­eas in the South China Sea. Mean­while, on­go­ing drills off Beibu Bay near Viet­nam and drills in the Bo­hai Strait and the Yel­low Sea are sched­uled to end on Fri­day

“The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion is sub­tle and tense, but some coun­tries don’t have to feel tar­geted as China is hold­ing ex­er­cises in wa­ters near its shores,” said Jiang. “Ja­pan, on the con­trary, has held land­ing drills that ob­vi­ously sim­u­lated de­fend­ing and re­cap­tur­ing is­lands.”

Zhang Junshe, deputy direc­tor of Naval Mil­i­tary Stud­ies Re­search In­sti­tute, said that while the scale of the drills is big­ger than in the past, it is a co­in­ci­dence the an­nual ex­er­cises are be­ing held at the same time, and the scale and num­ber are still dwarfed by those by Ja­pan and the United States.

In another devel­op­ment, Geng con­firmed on Thurs­day that China, Aus­tralia and the US will con­duct their first trilateral mil­i­tary ex­er­cise “Ex­er­cise Kowari” in Aus­tralia in Oc­to­ber.

Zhang said the trilateral one is likely to fo­cus on non-tra­di­tional se­cu­rity and hu­man­i­tar­ian relief.

“This is a good begin­ning for the three coun­tries, and it is also good for the re­gion’s peace and sta­bil­ity,” he said. Con­tact the writer at zhaosheng­nan@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

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