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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

China's military launches long-range war games

August 13, 2009

By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN
The Associated Press
August 11, 2009

BEIJING -- China's military launched war games
Tuesday aimed at deploying forces at long
distances, reflecting moves to ensure security in
the restive western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang.

The exercises will send 50,000 armored troops --
the People's Liberation Army's "largest-ever
tactical military exercise" -- to unfamiliar
areas far from their bases for two months of
live-fire drills, state media reported.

The exercises involve four brigades from the
major military regions of Shenyang, Lanzhou,
Jinan and Guangzhou, which all will be deployed
at least 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) from their bases, the reports said.

Such deployments would be needed to reinforce
units in Tibet and Xinjiang, where security
forces have battled renewed ethnic conflict and
anti-government violence over the past two years.

China also continues to claim territory along its
remote border with India over which the two
fought a short but bloody border war more than 45
years ago. Its navy, meanwhile, has grown
increasingly assertive in defending territorial claims in the South China Sea.

"In the unprecedented exercise, one of the PLA's
major objectives will be to improve its capacity
of long-range projection," the official Xinhua
News Agency said. It said the war games
constituted the army's "largest-ever tactical
military exercise," although numbers of troops involved were relatively small.

The 2.3 million-member PLA is the world's largest standing military.

Long-distance deployment is also aimed at dealing
with natural disasters such as last year's
devastating Sichuan earthquake, which left almost
90,000 people dead or missing, according to Ni
Lexiong, a military expert at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.

"This is really about a rapid response to sudden
events in Tibet and Xinjiang, but also the
military will play an increasing role in moving
supplies and responding to disasters," Ni said.

The PLA has undergone a rapid upgrade in recent
years in both equipment and doctrine.

Two decades of almost annual double-digit
increases in military spending have allowed the
addition of cutting-edge fighter jets, nuclear
submarines and hundreds of ballistic missiles
pointed at rival Taiwan. China has announced a
14.9 percent rise in military spending in its
2009 budget, to 480.6 billion yuan ($70.3 billion).

At the same time, training and tactics have been
redesigned to take advantage of information
technology and China's much-improved economy and infrastructure.

The military has also taken steps to emerge from
its traditional veil of secrecy and engage with
other nations, most strikingly in sending ships
to join the international anti-piracy flotilla
off the coast of Somalia this year.
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