Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 144

High-ranking military delegations from the Russian and Chinese General Staffs wound up five days of consultations in Beijing yesterday. The talks marked the second time that General Staff personnel from the two countries had met for talks, the first round having taken place in Moscow last November. During this latest round of talks the Russian side was led by First Deputy General Staff Chief Colonel General Valery Manilov. Lieutenant General Xiong Guangkai, who occupies an analogous position on China’s General Staff, headed up the Chinese side. The talks were said to be focused on the military and political situation in South Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, and on the consolidation of confidence-building measures between the Russian and Chinese militaries. The two sides also reportedly looked at military reform issues and at the “strengthening, development and practical implementation” of military bilateral cooperation.

This latest round of talks produced a series of public statements from both sides applauding what they said was stepped-up cooperation between the militaries of the countries. Beijing also described the consultations as evidence that Russia and China are moving forward in their effort to establish a “strategic partnership” for the 21st century. Chinese leaders said that cooperation between the two armies is important because it is contributing both to the process of international “multipolarization”–standard phrasing for efforts to counter Washington’s dominant international role–and to political and economic stability in the world.

Despite the rhetoric, however, news reports of the Russian-Chinese military talks contained little to indicate that any concrete agreements had been reached. With regard to military-technical cooperation–always an important issue between Russia and China–a Russian general was quoted only as saying that the two countries have a “huge potential.” The two sides did discuss possible visits to China by Russia’s defense minister and General Staff chief, but there was apparently no agreement on definite dates. The two sides did agree to hold the next session of their joint consultations in the second half of 1999. (Xinhua, July 23-24; Itar-Tass, July 24-27)