Chinese senior officers said yesterday that the large-scale joint anti-terrorism exercise conducted by the member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will improve their ability to coordinate their fight against terrorism and help guarantee regional security and stability.
They made these remarks in Kazakhstan's border city of Ucharal where the joint maneuver started yesterday.
Lieutenant General Li Qianyuan, head of the Chinese military delegation and Commander of the Lanzhou Military Command, said in an interview that the Chinese army will exchange anti-terror experience with troops of Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, and that they will discuss ways to work together to fight international terrorism.
The high-level military exercise shows that the SCO member states take the same stand and have the same determination to fight terrorism, separatism and extremism, Li said.
He also said it is an important for the SCO states to step up military cooperation, to further foster mutual trust among their armed forces, and to strengthen regional cooperation against terrorism.
The Chinese government stands firmly against terrorism of all kinds, and calls for closer international cooperation and removal of the roots of terrorism, Li said.
He added that the exercise displays again China's determination and confidence in the fight against terrorism.
Lieutenant General Qiu Yanhan, commander of China's Xinjiang Military Command, said that a joint command staffed by military experts and officers of the five countries has been set up for the exercise.
Qiu expressed his belief that the maneuver, the largest since the establishment of SCO, will contribute to increasing cooperation and coordination of activities in fighting terrorism.
An official who is in charge of the foreign affairs office of China's Ministry of National Defense said it is the first time for the People's Liberation Army of China (PLA) to take part in such a large-scale joint anti-terror exercise. This exercise represents one of the effective ways for member countries to carry out military exchanges and cooperation.
The official said that during the exercise, the leaders, commanders and soldiers from member countries would cooperate closely. It was also a chance for the PLA to display the caliber of its military.
He believes that the exercise will promote understanding, friendship, cooperation and development between the PLA and military forces of the other member countries.
The SCO was formed in June 2001 by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Following the success of a Sino-Kyrgyzstan joint anti-terror exercise held last year, the defense ministers from the five member countries of SCO signed, at the summit held in Moscow last May, a memorandum on conducting this joint anti-terrorist military exercise.
(China Daily August 7, 2003)