Tue, Aug 23, 2005 - Page 4 News List

PRC, Russian troops start drills

AFP , BEIJING

Yesterday Chinese and Russian military forces prepared a naval blockade and practiced an amphibious landing as part of a joint exercise that involved 8,800 personnel and a wide range of weaponry, an official Chinese mouthpiece said.

"Military vessels, fighter jets and amphibious tanks will start three-days of live-ammunition combat practice tomorrow," a senior officer of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) was quoted as saying by the China Daily.

The armies will focus on offshore blockades involving guided missile destroyers and jet fighters, a joint amphibious landing by air force and marine paratroopers and a forced evacuation, the paper said.

This is due to take place during the third phase of the eight-day "Peace Mission 2005" exercise begining today on Shandong Peninsula, the paper said.

During the second phase of the exercise, which ended yesterday, the two sides engaged in joint command operations and the deployment of troops including paratroopers, press reports said.

"China and Russia are sending a signal to Taiwan not to go down the road to independence and to the United States not to push them [China] into a corner by backing Taiwan['s] independence," said Arthur Ding, an expert on the PLA at National Chengchi University.

The first phase of the exercise, involving warships, submarines, bombers, helicopters and fighter planes, began Thursday near the city of Vladivostok.

Russian equipment that will be tested include the Il-76 transport plane, the Il-78 refueling plane, the A-50 early warning plane, TU-95 MS and TU-22M3 strategic bombers, the SU-24M2 bomber and the SU-27SM fighter jet, the paper said. Chinese hardware was not specified.

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