Is The Shanghai Cooperation Organization The New Warsaw Treaty Group
Hong Kong (UPI) Aug 10, 2007
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is holding joint military exercises this week in Russia, with all six member nations participating for the first time. However, judging from the number of soldiers taking part, the significance of the maneuvers is more symbolic than practical. Less than 4,000 troops are involved in the drills dubbed Peace Mission 2007: 1,600 from China, 2,000 from Russia, 100 from Kazakhstan, 30 from Kyrgyzstan, 100 from Tajikistan and a dozen from Uzbekistan.
Some Western strategists are concerned that the SCO may become a new Warsaw Treaty Organization. However, it is not likely. More likely is that the SCO will gradually lose its cohesion along with the resurgence of Russia and the emergence of an "Asian NATO" headed by the United States, Japan and Australia.
There are many indications that the SCO countries are not as strongly united as they appear. For example, ahead of the joint maneuvers, 1,600 People's Liberation Army soldiers were transported more than 6,200 miles by train from China to Russia, because Kazakhstan barred them from crossing its territory. That route would have cut their travel distance to only 2,500 miles. Kazakhstan's action sends a hint to Washington that the military alliance with China should not be taken seriously.
Russia also complained that the PLA wanted to bring too much military equipment into its territory, according to a Russian source. Two years ago, when Russia and China first conducted joint maneuvers, it was not Russia's intention to establish a military alliance with China, the Russian diplomatic source revealed. He said Russia would be willing to hold the same level of maneuvers, or even bigger ones, with NATO. In fact, the United States and Russia have launched higher-level strategic air force exercises.
If a similar request for joint maneuvers were to come from Japan, Moscow would appreciate it greatly. The source also added that China tends to exaggerate the scale of its military games and prefers to conduct them close to the Taiwan Straits to heighten their impact on Taiwan. The Russian said his country has no desire to get involved in the Taiwan Straits issue.
Another factor making an alliance unlikely is that the backgrounds of the SCO member countries are completely different from those of the Warsaw Pact countries. The Warsaw Pact members shared the same socialist values, a unified market under the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, the same weapons systems, and an integrated command and control mechanism. These characteristics do not exist within the SCO.
Its members have very different levels of economic development, with some economies semi-socialist and others semi-capitalist. Besides, different ideologies, including Islamism, coexist within and among these countries.
Several published "internal documents" of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, discovered in Taipei bookstores specializing in books from mainland China, reveal a different tone in their view of China-Russia relations from that expressed publicly by the Chinese government. "Internal Document A" says China's objective in developing relations with Russia is to alleviate U.S. "strategic exclusion" of China.
The document devotes a large section to China's distrust of the Russians, stressing that Russia has been selling China weapons systems at above-market prices and also imposing various restrictions on arms exports to China. The author believes that future Russian foreign policy will be unpredictable and advises that China remain vigilant toward right-wing forces within Russia.
"Internal Document B" points out that pro-Western businessmen and right-wing politicians in Russia are worried that a powerful neighbor would pose a national security threat to Russia. They are concerned about the development gap between China and Russia and skeptical about bilateral cooperation.
The author of "Internal Document B" believes that Russia has been deliberately delaying its energy cooperation programs with China, which indicates Russia still views its relations with Western Europe as a higher priority. The author thinks that the Russian president still holds supreme power in all national affairs in the country's current political situation. He is concerned about a return to the old czarist mindset, in which case Russia's foreign policy would be hard to predict. As a consequence, China should remain vigilant in its dealings with Russia.
These documents quite honestly reflect the negative opinions of Chinese strategists toward China-Russia relations within the Foreign Ministry and the Chinese military.
Mutual distrust has always characterized relations between Russia and China at the diplomatic and military levels, and mutual exploitation is likely to increase in their bilateral relations. Therefore, China and Russia are not likely to become genuine military allies, and Western analysts need not worry that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will turn into a new Warsaw Treaty Organization.
(The author is editor in chief of Kanwa Asian Defense Monthly.)
Source: United Press International
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Moscow, Russia (RIA Novosti) Aug 09, 2007
Russia's strategic aviation started Wednesday an active phase of military exercises to fly over the North Pole and conduct test launches of cruise missiles, an Air Force spokesman said. During the active phase, four Tu-160 Blackjack, 12 Tu-95 Bear-H strategic bombers, and 14 Tu-22 Backfire-C theater bombers will conduct simulated bombing raids, and more than ten cruise missile launches at the Pemboi range near Vorkuta [in Russia's Arctic], and fly over the North Pole, the Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans.
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