What signal does first China-Mongolia joint army training release?

China Military Online
Li Jiayao
2024-05-14 11:22:32

By Li Chao

The China-Mongolia "Steppe Partner-2024" joint army training, which is the first-ever joint training between the armies of the two countries, kicked off in Dornogovi Province of Mongolia on May 12. The Chinese side participated in the training by sending battalion-sized troops with various types of weapons and wheeled equipment. Then what signals have been released by the "Steppe Partner-2024" joint training?

First, it represents the continuous enhancement of mutual military trust between the two countries. Tracing back to the past two decades, the military and defense cooperation between China and Mongolia has seen incremental progress, with primary milestones including the China-Mongolian Defense and Security Consultation mechanism established by the two defense ministries in 2004, the joint training under the theme of peacekeeping held by the two militaries in 2009 and the "Prairie Pioneer" natural disaster relief joint training between the two militaries in 2013. Since the visit of Chinese defense minister to Mongolia in 2021 and the virtual meeting between the two defense ministers in the following year, annual military exchanges and cooperation between the two countries have been heating up, leading to the "Border Defense Cooperation-2023" joint drill between the two militaries in the border region.

The "Steppe Partner-2024" is the first joint training between the two countries that takes the army as the leading service. Its content is also different from the previous military exchanges which mainly focused on peacekeeping and disaster relief missions. The fact that the Chinese side sent battalion-sized troops, encompassing the fire assault, operational support, logistic support, equipment support and various other specialized elements, with various types of weapons and wheeled equipment, to participate in the training in the territory of Mongolia demonstrates the trend of ongoing enhancement of mutual military trust between the two countries. This helps further the exchanges between the two militaries and facilitates joint preservation of the peace and stability of the border region between the two sides.

Second, the two sides will jointly safeguard regional security and stability. The US has been taking frequent diplomatic moves toward Asia-Pacific countries in recent years. The Washington Declaration issued by the heads of the US and the ROK in 2023 will potentially escalate the US' extended deterrence and expand the scale of nuclear submarine deployment on the Korean Peninsula. The US, Japan and the ROK held their first trilateral aerial exercise in the same year, increasing once again the tensions on the peninsula. This year, the US held the trilateral summit with Japan and the Philippines to stir up regional conflicts. The above moves will not only endanger the strategic security of the regional countries, but also add pressure on them to choose sides. In this context, Mongolia still insists on diversity of its military cooperation, and the military cooperation between China and Mongolia does not target on any third party. The China-Mongolia joint army training reflects that instead of being dragged into the security trap of camp confrontation, Mongolia desires to continuously strengthen pragmatic defense cooperation and joint military training with neighboring countries, and jointly safeguard regional security and stability with China based on the changing regional security situations.

Third, the two sides will work together to implement the Global Security Initiative. In the Joint Statement on Advancing the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in the New Era Between the People's Republic of China and Mongolia issued in 2022, the Mongolian side expressed its willingness to jointly respond to climate change, terrorism and other global challenges with the Chinese side within the framework of the Global Security Initiative, and actively carry out cooperation in the fields such as disaster prevention and reduction and public health support. The China-Mongolia joint army training, with a focus on how to deal with the activities of illegal armed groups, represents the cooperation in progress between the two sides centering on the Global Security Initiative through practical actions.

The joint implementation of the Global Security Initiative by China and Mongolia will not only be conducive to the healthy development of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, but also lay a solid foundation for jointly facilitating the security governance in Northeast Asia and avoiding and mitigating security dilemmas. Therefore, the concerted effort will inject stability and positive energy into regional security cooperation. The year 2024 marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Mongolia. Against the backdrop of the all-round development of cooperation between the two countries in various areas, China-Mongolia defense relationship will continue to enrich new connotations in the future.

(The author is an associate researcher at the Belt and Road Institute at the Inner Mongolian Academy of Social Sciences.)

Editor's note: Originally published on huanqiu.com, this article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.

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