A contingent of Chinese military officers, soldiers and aircrafts equipped with armaments is expected to arrive on Russian soil today following a 10,300 km journey to participate in a drill.
The anti-terror military drill, organized by Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) members, is slated to take place in Russia and northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region next month.
Some Chinese military officers and soldiers, who departed from Xinjiang last Thursday, are yet to reach their destination.
After leaving China, they were expected to pass through Manchuria, a city in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, before arriving in Russia.
It's the first time that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has dispatched a huge continent of soldiers and armaments to such a distant location, said Qiu Yanhan, deputy commander of the Chinese troops participating in the drill.
Around 1,600 Chinese soldiers from the army and air force - including airborne and logistics units - will take part in the large-scale joint military exercises with armed forces from five other SCO members.
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, too, will take part in the drill dubbed Peace Mission 2007.
The exercises, set for August 9-17, will be held in Urumqi, the capital of China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and in Chelyabins in Russia's Ural Mountains region.
The biggest challenge facing the Chinese troops, some observers say, is the successful deployment of such a large number of troops and equipment over rail and by air.
The trek will be a test for Chinese troops, said Chen Jianmin, a researcher at the Academy of Military Sciences.
"It helps build experience of our troops in overseas joint military exercises and international peace-keeping operations," Chen said.
(China Daily July 27, 2007)