News / Asia

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

FILE - Visitors try out modern weapons during an exhibition of police equipment and anti-terror technologies held in Beijing.
FILE - Visitors try out modern weapons during an exhibition of police equipment and anti-terror technologies held in Beijing.
William Ide

China, Russia and several central Asian countries, all members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or SCO, have just wrapped up a massive round of anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia. The joint exercises follow a year of multiple terrorist attacks inside China, mostly in its restive Xinjiang region that borders central Asia.

At least 7,000 troops from five countries participated in the joint exercises dubbed “Peace Mission 2014.”  Chinese state media say a key objective of the combat-like drills is crushing a terrorist organization that is plotting attacks to divide the country and is supported by other terrorist groups overseas.

The exercises were the biggest yet for the regional grouping and incorporated tanks, fighter jets, early-warning aircraft, air defense missiles and even drones.
Raffaello Pantucci, is a senior fellow with the Royal United Services Institute.

“These exercises were originally just an offshoot of the SCO, which is a sort of a regional confidence building measures organization and something the Chinese wanted to use to help build their connections regionally and allow them to steadily develop, they are slowly turning into something, a really useful exercise for them," said Pantucci.

The exercises used to jokingly be referred to as an opportunity for Russia to show off its hardware to its customers. And China had a difficult time interacting with the other militaries as most participants were from Central Asia and together with Moscow shared a common language of Russian.  But that is changing, Pantucci says.

“The Chinese have gotten very good about sending Russian speaking officers increasingly to these exercises. The balance of these exercises has distinctly shifted from something where the Chinese were kind of the outsiders," he said.

For the most part, China used its hosting of the drills to highlight what it regards as a serious growing threat from terrorism and religious extremism in Xinjiang. Just as the exercises began, China executed eight people accused of carrying out terrorist attacks in remote Xinjiang. It also released never before seen footage of the alleged mastermind of an attack on Tiananmen Square in Beijing late last year.

Alexander Cooley is a Central Asia analyst and political scientist at Columbia University.

 “The SCO almost from its outset adopted the Chinese normative framework of combating the three evils - terrorism, separatism and extremism and that became part of the SCO’s mission. So, the security cooperation actually pre-dated economic plans, but China would really like to see the SCO become the multi-lateral veil through which it conducts most of its business in Central Asia," said Cooley.

China’s economic and security engagement with Central Asia has been booming since the Shanghai Cooperative Organization was established in 2001.

Since then, annual trade with the region has grown from less than $1 billion a year to more than $70 billion annually.  And while China says the SCO is not a military alliance, the security component of the relationship is being watched ever closer now as the United States withdraws from Afghanistan and Beijing weighs its future relationship with Kabul.  

 

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukraine PM Warns Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid