The Chinese and Russian defense ministers held an official meeting in Moscow on Tuesday, in which they highlighted the high level of China-Russia military-to-military relations, agreed to deepen military cooperation, and stressed mutual support in respective core interests.
Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu agreed in the meeting that under the strategic guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin, the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era between China and Russia has continued to develop at a high level, with the two militaries having closely cooperated and coordinated, fruitful results achieved in many fields, and strategic connotation continuously enriched in the development of the bilateral ties, reads a press release from China’s Ministry of National Defense on Tuesday.
The two sides agreed to fully implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, continue to maintain close high-level communication, improve the mechanism for military exchanges, expand cooperation between theaters, military services and academies, and make new contributions to promoting high-quality development of China-Russia relations, safeguarding world and regional security and stability, and serving the building of a global community with a shared future, the Chinese Defense Ministry said.
Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Tuesday that by expanding cooperation between theaters, military services and academies, the meeting between Li and Shoigu has elevated the two countries’ military cooperation.
Cooperation between theaters means that the two militaries could jointly tackle emergencies in a particular direction, while cooperation between military services means that the armies, navies and air forces of the two countries could share their experiences and enhance their capabilities, Song said.
Zhang Hong, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday that more military services could start to have exchanges, like strategic rocket forces.
Russia previously announced that it is helping China developing a missile early warning system, Zhang said.
In terms of cooperation between military academies, the two countries could expand personnel exchanges in officer training as well as studies in military theory, experts said.
China and Russia have held many joint drills and patrols, and such activities are expected to continue and expand, observers said.
During the talks, Li and Shoigu reiterated that they will firmly support each other when it comes to safeguarding the two countries’ respective core interests, first and foremost those concerning sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and development, and resolutely oppose external forces interfering in internal affairs.
China and Russia are both facing suppression attempts from the US and the US-led NATO, as the US sees the two countries’ development as threats to its hegemony, Song said.
Both China and Russia oppose power politics and global hegemony, and that is why the two countries stressed safeguarding their respective core interests. Russia supports China in the Taiwan question, and China support Russia in its national security, Song said.
On the Ukraine crisis, China’s position will remain the same, and that is to promote peace and negotiations, and not to provide weapons to either side of the conflict, Zhang said.
Li said during the meeting that the first place he chose to visit since his appointment as defense minister was Russia in order to demonstrate the high level of development of China-Russia relations as well as the firm determination to strengthen the strategic cooperation of the two countries’ armed forces, according to a press release from the Russian Ministry of Defense on Tuesday.
The Russian press release quoted Shoigu as saying that the interaction between Russia and China has a stabilizing effect on the situation in the world and helps to reduce tension. He also stressed that the two countries are coordinating their actions in preparing joint sea and air patrols, military exercises both on a bilateral basis and in multilateral formats.
During Li’s visit to Moscow on Tuesday, he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, RT reported.
The location is a war memorial dedicated to Soviet soldiers killed during World War II, and Li’s visit showed the Chinese and Russian people’s traditional comradery and friendship by remembering their joint efforts in fighting fascism in World War II, observers said.