China, Russia holding first joint military exercise

Thousands of Chinese and Russian troops wrapped up the first joint military exercises Thursday with a mock invasion by paratroopers on China's east coast.

The eight-day exercises with 7,000 Chinese troops and 1,800 Russians underscore growing military ties between the former Cold War enemies, motivated by their common unease with U.S. dominance in world affairs.

On Thursday, Chinese and Russian paratroopers simulated the seizure of an airfield as planes dropped combat vehicles by parachute on the Shandong Peninsula in the Yellow Sea, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Propaganda leaflets fell from the sky in "a psychological tactic to shake the enemy's will," according to Xinhua.

"The exercise ended with the defeat of the 'enemy,"' the agency said.

Russia's Interfax news agency also portrayed the operation as a success, saying Russian planes landed 10 combat vehicles and two armored personnel carriers by parachute in high winds.

Earlier drills included a mock amphibious assault and a sea battle.

The exercise, dubbed "Peace Mission 2005," was inaugurated last week in the Russian port of Vladivostok and shifted on Saturday to China.

Ties between the two governments have warmed since the Soviet collapse in the early 1990s.

China has become the biggest foreign buyer of Russian arms and looks to Russia as a source of oil and gas for its booming economy. Beijing and Moscow also are partners in a six-nation regional group meant to combat Islamic extremism in Central Asia.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, who was in China for the exercise, said this week the unprecedented cooperation was based on a "strategic partnership," Interfax reported.

"The fact that such large-scale exercises are taking place demonstrates that our military cooperation is at a high level," Ivanov was quoted as saying

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