GAZING AFAR: Two foreign officers watch the "Vanguard 2011 Queshan" military exercise through binoculars (LIU FENGAN)
Between October 29 and November 1, nearly 200 foreign cadets from the University of National Defense, Nanjing Army Command College and the Air Force Command College, as well as about a dozen military observers and military attachés from eight countries watched the "Vanguard 2011 Queshan" military exercise held in Henan Province. Since the turn of the century China has held annual military drills open to foreign military officers studying in China as well as foreign observers.
China is committed to increasing its military transparency by conducting more joint military exercises with other countries and opening up its own drills to the outside world.
In 2000, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) opened some of its training bases to foreign observers. In November 2000, at the invitation of the Ministry of National Defense, military officers from the United States watched an attack drill conducted by a motorized infantry brigade from the PLA Nanjing Military Area Command. Between 2003 and 2005, foreign observers from over 20 countries were invited to watch the PLA military drills.
Every year since 2007, the PLA has conducted at least one drill open to foreign military observers, military attachés and foreign military officers studying in China.
In September 2007, at the invitation of the Ministry of National Defense, 55 military observers from a record 35 countries watched "Warrior 2007," a live fire exercise conducted by Shenyang Military Area Command in Yaonan Training Base in northeast China.
"Military exercises open to foreign observers are becoming more frequent, larger in scale and more transparent. This indicates that China's military forces have become more open and confident," said Peng Guangqian, a military strategist with the China Association of Policy Science.
In October 2008, more than 170 foreign cadets from over 60 countries training at the University of National Defense and Nanjing Army Command College observed the whole process of "Vanguard 2008," a live ammunition drill conducted by an armored brigade of the PLA Jinan Military Area Command. Many of these cadets were senior officers in their countries. This was the first large-scale PLA exercise open to foreign cadets.
In October 2009, "Vanguard 2009A" strike exercise was staged at the Queshan Training Base of the PLA Jinan Military Area Command. The exercise involved the air force, airborne forces, army aviation units, electronic warfare and tactical missiles. This was the PLA's first air-and-ground joint strike exercise involving the coordination of a large number or air and ground forces. More than 200 foreign cadets studying in China and foreign military observers watched the maneuver.
In September 2004, "Jiaolong 2004," an amphibious landing exercise conducted by a marine brigade, was held in Shanwei of south China's Guangdong Province. International military observers and more than 50 participants of a seminar on international issues organized by the University of National Defense viewed the annual exercise.