Member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will participate in the upcoming joint military drill dubbed Peace Mission 2018 to promote mutual trust, cooperation and coordination against terrorist threats and to maintain regional peace and stability, Chinese experts said.
The drill's command post exercise will take place at the Chebarkulsky training ground in the Ural Mountains region in August, the Russian Federation’s ministry of defense said in an online statement on May 29. Chiefs of general staff of the SCO nations will also hold a meeting during the joint military drills, it said.
The exercise will follow the 18th SCO Summit, scheduled for June 9 and 10 in Qingdao, Shandong province.
The exercises are biannual, multinational drills with the goal of enhancing counterterrorism coordination and cooperation among the eight member countries, which include China, Russia, Pakistan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The drill does not target any third party.
The last exercise was held in Kyrgyzstan in September 2016. The 2018 exercise will be the first for India and Pakistan since becoming full members of the SCO in 2017.
It also will be the first time India and Pakistan take part in a military exercise together since their independence, though their militaries have previously worked on United Nations peacekeeping missions.
Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said at a news conference on Thursday that defense and security cooperation under the SCO has been smooth and effective in recent years.
China is willing to continue with exchanges and cooperation in defense and security with SCO member countries based on mutual trust and benefit and to improve the capacity to jointly cope with new challenges, Ren said.
Founded in 2001 in Shanghai, the SCO upholds the “Shanghai Spirit”, which features mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development.
The SCO member states now account for about 40 percent of the world’s population, one-third of the world’s GDP and about 80 percent of Eurasia’s land mass, making it the biggest regional organization promoting effective cooperation in politics, security, economy, culture and other areas, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Li Xing, a professor of international relations at Beijing Normal University, said adding India and Pakistan to the joint exercise represents a new height in security cooperation through the SCO.
“India and Pakistan have had many conflicts, but the SCO exercise can facilitate positive interactions between the two militaries and help ease tensions between the two countries,” Li said.
Li Li, a researcher of South Asian countries at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said many exchange mechanisms between Pakistan and India have been halted due to constant border tensions.
“It is very rare for the Indian and Pakistani militaries to interact with each other,” she said. “The SCO is a great platform for member nations to build mutual trust, improve their ability to tackle terrorist threats and maintain regional peace and security.”