By Fan Yongqiang and Mei Shixiong
Russian helicopters enter the exercise area for mobile defense after the start of the actual-combat phase of the “Vostok-2018” strategic joint military exercise at the Tsugol training range in Russia's Trans-Baikal on September 13, 2018.
In the past few days, military deputies attending the Two Sessions remarked that in the new era the Chinese military are fulfilling its international obligations with an open, confident and transparent posture, which showcases China’s willingness to shoulder the responsibility of a great power.
Building a new pattern of military diplomacy covering all spheres
“China has always been a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, and a defender of the international order. China’s armed forces have always been a staunch force upholding world peace,” said Major General Ci Guowei, Chief of the Office for International Military Cooperation (OIMC) of the Central Military Commission, as recently talking about the new look and new deed of Chinese military diplomacy in the new era. The word “Stability” has a rich connotation in Maj. Gen. Ci’s eyes, including :
---- Steady progress on military relations with great powers. Chinese and Russian military relations have continued to operate at a high-level, creating positive energy for maintaining world peace and regional stability. China and the US maintain overall stability in military relations. Chinese military has worked hard to make the relations between both sides a stabilizer for bilateral relations, following the principles of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.
----Stable military relations with neighboring countries. Focusing on building a community of peripheral destinies, China has established defense and security consultation mechanisms with 17 neighboring countries, and their strategic mutual trust has been continuously strengthened.
----Expanded relations with other developing countries while maintaining stability. China has strengthened military exchanges with developing countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific, and expanded bilateral military relations in various aspects. Quoting an ancient Chinese poem, “A bosom friend afar brings a distant land near,” Maj. Gen. Ci said: “China’s military diplomacy has been practicing a new security concept and continuously making contributions to promoting world peace and global development in order to build a community with a shared future for mankind.”
Military diplomacy promotes combat effectiveness
Hou Shengliang, a professor at the Army Academy of Border and Coastal Defense, was impressed with the result of China-foreign joint exercises. According to the material he read, in 2018 alone, the Chinese military participated in more than 40 joint exercises with its foreign counterparts. The contribution of military diplomacy to combat effectiveness has increased significantly. For example, the “Peace Mission-2018” joint anti-terrorism military exercise under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has shown an important positive impact on regional stability. The China-Pakistan and China-Thailand joint exercises have achieved new breakthroughs in military strength. Last fall, the “Vostok-2018” strategic military drills, which marked the largest joint military exercise abroad that the Chinese military has ever participated, fully presented the effectiveness of China’s deepening national defense and military reforms.
“Military diplomacy must facilitate the boost in military combat effectiveness,” said Maj. Gen. Ci. He stated that in the new era, the Chinese military has mindfully planned joint exercises, training and competitions, including the China-ASEAN joint maritime exercise 2018, the US-China Disaster Management Exchange 2018, the “Shaheen-VII” China-Pakistan joint air exercise, and the International Army Games (IAG). The actual combat capability is highlighted in terms of the theme setting, subject content, and training methods, he added.
Providing public safety products for the international community
Liu Shilei, a researcher at the Academy of Military Sciences of the Chinese PLA, who has participated in many international humanitarian rescue missions, said: “The development of the Chinese military is not only a responsibility for itself but also for the world.”
“With the increasing capabilities of the Chinese military, our international security responsibilities increase correspondingly.” Maj. Gen. Ci told reporters that in recent years, the Chinese military has actively participated in such operations as international peacekeeping, maritime escort and humanitarian relief, and offered more and more international public security products. China supports UN peacekeeping operations and has been actively participating in 24 UN peacekeeping operations involving over 39,000 peacekeeping military personnel. It has been lauded by the United Nations as “a critical factor and key force of peacekeeping operations.” Since December 2008, the PLA has sent naval taskforces to the Gulf of Aden and the Somali waters to carry out regular escort operations, providing safety protection for more than 6,600 Chinese and foreign ships in 10 years. Chinese PLA Navy’s hospital ship Peace Ark (Hull 866) has visited 43 countries, and provided free medical service to more than 230,000 people, since its commission to the PLA Navy a decade ago.
Maj. Gen. Ci said, “This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese PLA will continue to actively carry out international military exchanges and cooperations, work together with others to address global security challenges and strive to play a positive role in promoting world peace, stability and prosperity.”