For the first time the People's Liberation Army (PLA) will participate in Russia's Vostok military drills in a move that a Chinese expert said showcases their deepening strategic partnership.
In accordance with an agreement made by China and Russia, the Chinese military will take part in the Russian army's Vostok 2018 strategic drills from mid-late August to mid September in Russia, read a statement released by China's Ministry of National Defense on Monday.
The joint exercise will be held September 11-15 at the Tsugol training range in the Trans-Baikal region of Russia.
China will send about 3,200 officers and soldiers, more than 900 pieces of equipment and weaponry plus a combined 30 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, said the statement. Training will include mobile defense and counterattack.
PLA participation in Vostok 2018 indicates further deepening of China's strategic partnership with Russia, a military expert, who asked not to be named, told the Global Times on Monday.
Vostok drills used to be conducted by Russia only, with no foreign countries participating, the expert said.
Their aim is to strengthen strategic military partnership between the two countries, deepen friendship and cooperation between the two militaries and further boost the two countries' joint capability to deal with security threats, the ministry statement said.
The drill will contribute to regional security and is not directed against any third party, it said.
Unlike other China-Russia drills, Vostok 2018 focuses on traditional rather than non-traditional security threats, the anonymous expert said.
"People previously feared Russian Vostok drills were directed against China, but China's participation in the drills proves that theory wrong," the expert said.
Vostok 2018 will be unprecedented in the number of participating forces, the geographic scope and strength of command and control centers, the Russian news agency Tass quoted Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying.