The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states have started a large-scale anti-terror exercise at the Zhurihe military base in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Code-named Peace Mission 2014, the war game involves the participation of 7,000 soldiers from Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
The participating forces include ground and air forces, special operations and airborne troops, as well as others tasked with electronic countermeasures, reconnaissance, mapping and positioning missions, reported Xinhua.
In addition, drones, airborne early warning and control aircraft, helicopters, including Mi-8 gunships, air-defence missiles, tanks and armoured vehicles have joined the six-day exercise.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) general staff deputy chief and drill chief director Wang Ning said the exercise seeks to deter the "three evil forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism.
"The drill focuses on joint multilateral decision making and action, with exchanges of anti-terror intelligence among the SCO members to effectively boost the troops’ coordinated ability to fight terrorism," Wang added.
PLA National Defense University professor Meng Xiangqing said the 2014 drill has exceeded previous drills in scale and weaponry involved and is close to real combat.
"Armed forces of neighbouring countries have penetrated into the interior of China to conduct the drill this time. Without [a] high level of strategic mutual trust, this kind of drill could never be held.
"Military cooperation among the SCO member states has entered a deepened run-in period."
During the exercise, a separatist organisation, with support from an international terrorist organisation, will plot terrorist incidents and also hatch a coup plot to divide a SCO member country.
At the request of the country’s government, the SCO will deploy military forces to put down the insurrection and restore stability.
Conducted since 2010, Peace Mission exercises aim to hone the participants’ multi-lateral decision-making, sharpen joint anti-terror efforts and boost intelligence sharing to ensure regional peace and stability.
Image: Russian Mil Mi-8 helicopters are also participating in the Peace Mission 2014 exercise in China. Photo: courtesy of Alex Beltyukov.