Peace Mission 2007

For the first time in its history, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have entered Russian territory to carry out joint exercises, an important step in China’s projection of power outside it.

Next week, approximately 6500 troops from Russia, China and other member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)-including units from Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan-will converge on the Chebarkulsk training ground in Chelyabinsk to carry out a series of anti-terrorism drills, while chiefs of the general staffs of the respective countries will gather in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

China is sending 1600 military personnel and dispatched 16 Mi-17 transport helicopters and 16 Z-9 attack helicopters that left an airbase in Xinjiang and are flying directly to the exercise site in Chelyabinsk. Other Chinese forces entered Russia by train. This is the first time that units of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) have entered Russian territory to carry out joint exercises and also marks a test of China's capability to project power over long distances.

"This is the first time the PLA has sent so many soldiers and armaments so far", Qiu Yanhan, deputy commander of the Chinese contingent, said in comments to Xinhua. . . .

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