Chinese defense chief wants to expand cooperation with Russia

China and Russia should hold more joint drills and continue working together in other areas to propel their military cooperation to a “new level,” Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu said during talks with the head of the Russian Navy Nikolay Evmenov in Beijing on Monday.

Exchanges and cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries have been “developing steadily,” but there’s room for further improvement, Li told Evmenov, according to the Chinese Defense Ministry.

Through joint work, “the relations between the two armed forces will continue to deepen and solidify, constantly make new progress, and move to a new level,” he emphasized adding that he hoped it “will strengthen communication at all levels, and regularly organize joint exercises… expand practical cooperation in professional fields.”

Li stressed that this cooperation will allow them to “make positive contributions to maintaining regional and world peace and stability.”

According to the statement by the Chinese Defense Ministry, the Russian Navy chief also said that Moscow attaches “great importance” to boosting military cooperation with Beijing. Russia is eager to maintain “close coordination” with the Chinese side and continue to expand exchanges at all levels, he said.

The two countries are going to “organize joint naval exercises, joint cruises, and other important training activities,” Evmenov pointed out.

Economic and military ties between Russia and China became closer following the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine in February 2022. While not providing military aid to Moscow, Beijing has resisted Western pressure to condemn or sanction Russia. China has consistently called for a peaceful settlement of the crisis and argued that US actions and NATO expansion helped provoke the fighting.

Li, who was appointed defense minister in mid-March, made his first foreign visit to Russia in April. During talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu, he said that the trip was intended “to demonstrate to the outside world the high level of Chinese-Russian relations.”

Last month, Russia confirmed its participation in the Chinese ‘Northern/Interaction-2023’ military exercises scheduled later this year. Also in June, their air forces conducted their sixth joint patrol mission over the waters of the Sea of Japan and East China Sea.

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