China tight-lipped on trilateral naval exercise in Indian Ocean

Chinese President Xi Jinping with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday declined to confirm that China was participating in a joint military exercise with Iran and Russia, amid signals that Beijing and Tehran were considering a long term blueprint of military collaboration.

In response to question on the reported exercise in the Indian Ocean, Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, deflected the query to the Chinese Ministry of Defence.

On December 3, Iran’s naval chief Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said during a meeting in Tehran with Lieutenant General Shao Yuanming, deputy chief of Joint Staff Department in China’s Central Military Commission, that the trilateral exercise, codenamed Marine Security Belt, will be held on December 27, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported. Admiral Khanzadi further sought Chinese support to build destroyers and submarines.

Earlier, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, quoting Chinese military analysts, reported that China is expected to limit its involvement in a joint naval drill with Iran and Russia to non-combat forces to underline its desire not to be drawn into Middle East conflicts. “Participation in formal military exercise in the Persian Gulf could turn the waterway into a hotspot, and that may mean trouble for Beijing,” the daily quoted Zhou Chenming.

On the same day, Mohammad Baqeri, chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, said, “Iran’s Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) views Tehran-Beijing relations as strategic. The Chinese President has also similar view towards the issue,” the Tehran Times reported.

Important document drafted

The Tehran Times report posted on the official People’s Liberation Army (PLA) website added that, “Iran has drafted an important document over the strategy of 25 years of relationship between the two nations. The document has been handed over to the Chinese officials. The document has been prepared by the highest-ranking Iranian officials. The Leader has also confirmed the document.”

Gen. Baqeri stressed that Gen. Shao’s visit “founded suitable bedrock” for more cooperation between the armed forces of the two friendly nations. Alluding to regional tensions, the top general added that “other countries” cannot affect the growing ties between Iran and China. “Other countries’ views and their hostilities could not affect the

Tehran-Beijing relations. We hope that the Chinese officials’ point of view towards the document and their response to our strategic offer to help expand bilateral ties,” the Iranian commander said. Analysts say that Iran is seeking solid political support from China and Russia to counter rivals, especially the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Separately, an article posted on the website of the state run China Global Television Network (CGTN) said that West Asia’s “Gulf kingdoms are now rapidly zipping toward China as an alternative to the U.S. in the Middle East”. It added: “Beijing generally maintains good relations with all the regional states and is better positioned to broker peace in conflict-shrouded zone.”

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 2:59:13 AM |

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