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'Peace Mission 2007' Tackles Terror Threats
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The 17 joint exercises of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) with foreign troops in the past five years are a sign of the increasing foreign exchanges of the force and enhancing its capabilities to deal with non-traditional threats like terrorism, the PLA Daily reported yesterday.

The increasing joint military drills are closely linked with growing non-traditional threats that pose a greater danger to China's national security, the report quoted Tian Yixiang, an officer with the PLA's Department of General Staff as saying.

The report comes before next month's "Peace Mission 2007", the largest joint anti-terrorism exercises in which all the six Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) countries will take part. The SCO members are China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

About 5,000 personnel will participate in "Peace Mission 2007" at Chelyabinsk in the Ural mountainous region of Russia.

The planned drill shows the SCO cooperation over security has gone beyond the issues of regional disarmament and borders, for it includes how to deal with non-traditional threats such as terrorists, secessionist forces and extreme religious groups.

"It's a practical way to improve the Chinese army's capability to tackle terrorist threats," said officer Guo Wenhui, also with the PLA's Department of General Staff.

According to Ministry of Public Security's figures, the country saw more than 260 terrorist incidents in which over 160 people were killed and more than 440 injured.

"China has always abided by the UN Charters and international laws while holding joint military drills.

"This shows its respect for other countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity," said Sun Haiyang, an officer with the PLA's Strategic Missile Force.

"Such exercises have never targeted a third county or interfered with other countries' interests. Nor have they constituted a threat to any country," Sun said.

"That's why Chinese military exercises have won the support and praise of the international community."

Sun said joint military exercises could help foreign armies learn more about the PLA and understand that the talk of "Chinese threat" is baseless.

The PLA, on the other hand, could learn about advanced military theories, weapons and equipment from its foreign counterparts.

Zhang Zhi'an, of the Chinese General Logistics Department, said joint military exercises could help the PLA speed up reforms.

And Shijiazhuang Army Command Academy's Cui Yafeng wants the Chinese army to set up special training courses for joint military exercises.

(China Daily July 3, 2007)

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