Biggest war games since 1964 show 'new heights of achievement' in training and technology
Vivien Pik-Kwan Chan
President Jiang Zemin attended joint manoeuvres involving the army, navy and air force yesterday in the largest display of Chinese military might since 1964, Xinhua said.
Mr Jiang, also chairman of the Central Military Commission, presided over exercises at the foot of the Yanshan Mountains in Beijing's western suburbs. More than 10,000 PLA soldiers at four separate sites were taking part in the drills.
The other three exercise sites are training bases used by ground forces - one in Inner Mongolia; one by the sea at Bo Hai, which is used by the navy; and the other at an unspecified location in northeast China used by troops operating strategic missile systems.
Xinhua said the drills were meant to showcase 'new heights of achievement' in military training and technology in the 36 years since its 1964, 'grand-scale contest of military skills'.
'All PLA members should be aware of the hard work ahead, have a strong sense of political responsibility, and realise the historic mission they shoulder,' Mr Jiang said, referring to the PLA's role in defending national sovereignty and promoting unification with Taiwan. 'To incorporate hi-tech elements into the PLA's training is the fundamental way for the PLA to ensure a success in possible future wars,' he said.
China Central Television and Xinhua emphasised the commanding role at the display played by Mr Jiang, wearing a green military uniform. His appearance was largely seen as an attempt at underlining his leadership of the PLA, which has long been crucial to all communist Chinese leaders.
Television pictures showed tanks destroying towed targets, armoured vehicles manoeuvring across broken ground and anti-aircraft missiles being fired.
The four-day joint exercises by the sea, ground and air forces involved tests of new missile systems, rapid reaction troops, amphibious armoured forces, artillery forces, special forces, Marines and other PLA units, Xinhua said.
This year China announced a military budget of US$14.5 billion (HK$113 billion), a 12.7 per cent increase over last year.
Taiwan's defence authorities yesterday urged people on the island not to worry about the mainland's military exercises, saying the Government was monitoring them closely.
'The current military drill is a demonstration of the training results of Communist China's hi-tech . . . programmes,' the military spokesman's office said. The Taiwan Defence Ministry urged the public not to worry.