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Soldiers Heading for Anti-terror Drill
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A total of 1,600 Chinese officers and soldiers are on their way to Russia to attend a joint anti-terrorism drill held by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

The last batch of Chinese soldiers left for Russia last Saturday, along with armaments needed for the drill, from northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The soldiers, with the average age around 21, are required to do physical exercises even on the train, including 100 sit-ups and 100 pushups each day, despite the limited room.

They are also asked to help clean dining cars.

Before leaving for Russia, Chinese soldiers underwent about 60 days of intensive training in the Gobi desert in Xinjiang. However, none of them fell ill despite the strong winds and a temperature of 45 degrees Celsius.

When the train arrives at a station, the soldiers would inspect every piece of armament and various vehicles to ensure they are tightly fastened, said Colonel Lan Qing, who was in charge of the equipment safety.

The six member countries of SCO -- China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- will stage a joint anti-terrorism drill from Aug. 9 to 17.

The drill, dubbed "Peace Mission 2007", will be carried out in Chelyabinsk in Russia's Ural Mountainous region and in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang.

The Chinese soldiers will travel a total distance of 10,300 kilometers.

"This is the first time the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has sent so many soldiers and armaments to such a far away place," said Qiu Yanhan, deputy commander of the Chinese troops taking part in the drill.

Some soldiers practiced simple Russian language and acquainted themselves with the background of the SCO member countries by reading books they took along.

The exercise will help deepen relations between the militaries of SCO members and enhance cooperation in defense security, said Guo Boxiong, vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission.

Chinese soldiers taking part in the drill come from the army and air force, including airborne and logistic units, according to the Ministry of Defense.

(Cnsphoto July 26, 2007)

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