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

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid