Chinese Preparations for “Peace Mission 2007” Complete

Chinese preparations for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) “Peace Mission 2007” joint military exercises have now been completed. Some 1,600 Chinese military personnel have been transported across Russia to the military base in Chebarkul in the Chelyabinsk region (Jiefangjun Bao, August 2; ITAR-TASS, August 4). In addition, 46 Chinese aircraft, including six Il-76 transports, eight JH-7A “Flying Leopard” fighter-bombers and 16 Mi-17 helicopters, were flown to a Russian airbase. The exercise, which is scheduled to be held from August 9-17, is being billed as a counter-terrorism drill, though it will also provide the Chinese military with the opportunity to exercise with Russian units in a conventional live-fire environment. Notable aspects of the exercise include the use of Chinese fighter-bombers to conduct precision strikes on targets based in the mountains as well as Chinese paratroopers who will be jumping with their Russian and Kazakh counterparts. In addition to the field exercises, operational headquarters drills will also play a prominent role during the nine-day exercise. From August 11-16, the military commanders from the six SCO member states will hold exercises to practice joint operational decision-making, coordination and planning (Xinhua, August 2). In an effort to assuage the concerns of neighboring and Western countries that the SCO is becoming a NATO-like alliance, the SCO has invited more than 80 military attaches and 400 reporters from various countries to observe the exercises, though it appears that the majority hail from select non-Western countries (Zhonguo Tongxun She, August 4).