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

Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Unlikely Before Monday

Tension builds over possible indictment of white police officer in shooting death of black teen More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current Russian-backed rebels’ fight in east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid