The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis said this week that he doubts Chi­nese par­tic­i­pa­tion in the mas­sive Vos­tok-18 Rus­sian mil­i­tary ex­er­cises in the Far East marks a step to­ward a Moscow-Bei­jing mil­i­tary al­liance.

Mr. Mat­tis was asked if he was con­cerned about par­tic­i­pa­tion by the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army, which sent around 3,000 troops and 900 ve­hi­cles to the war games. The sec­re­tary played down the sig­nif­i­cance.

“I think that na­tions act out of their in­ter­ests,” Mr. Mat­tis told re­porters. “I see lit­tle in the long term that aligns Rus­sia and China.”

The ex­er­cises in­volve some 300,000 troops, 1,000 air­craft, 80 war­ships and 36,000 ar­mored ve­hi­cles. They are the largest war games ever held by Rus­sia and the big­gest since the Soviet Union in 1981. Rus­sian Tu-95 Bear nu­clear-ca­pa­ble bombers launched cruise mis­siles dur­ing the ex­er­cises, the of­fi­cial TASS news agency re­ported.

Chi­nese par­tic­i­pa­tion in the ex­er­cises sig­nals a ma­jor shift. An ear­lier ver­sion of the ex­er­cise, Vos­tok-2010, in­cluded ma­neu­vers of Rus­sian forces that prac­ticed against a na­tional Chi­nese mil­i­tary at­tack in the vul­ner­a­ble Far East.

Chi­nese De­fense Min­istry spokesman Col. Wu Qian said: “China’s par­tic­i­pa­tion is aimed at con­sol­i­dat­ing and fur­ther de­vel­op­ing the com­pre­hen­sive and strate­gic part­ner­ship of co­or­di­na­tion be­tween China and Rus­sia, deep­en­ing prac­ti­cal and friendly co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two mil­i­taries, fur­ther en­hanc­ing the joint ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the two mil­i­taries to re­spond to se­cu­rity threats.”

Col. Wu said the war games are not “tar­geted at any third party, nor it has any­thing to do with the re­gional sit­u­a­tion.”

Chi­nese and Rus­sian forces will op­er­ate un­der a joint com­mand sys­tem and will prac­tice mech­a­nized de­fense, live-fire strike and coun­ter­at­tack train­ing.

China’s Com­mu­nist Party-af­fil­i­ated news­pa­per Global Times at­trib­uted closer Rus­sia-China ties to U.S. poli­cies.

The out­let said Wash­ing­ton “has ac­tu­ally pro­moted China-Rus­sia ties by strate­gi­cally squeez­ing the two coun­tries.”

The ground por­tion of the war games will be held

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