By Li Zhenqi, Liu Jianwei and Wu Xu
The International Army Games (IAG) 2020 is to run from August 23 to September 5 in Russia. On July 30, China’s Ministry of National Defense announced that the PLA Army and Air Force would dispatch personnel to participate in six competitions of the game in Russia.
To know more about the planning arrangements and preparations for this year’s game, the reporters interviewed the leaders of the CMC Training and Administration Department on relevant issues.
Question: This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, and some countries still face a relatively grim situation in epidemic prevention and control. Under such a special circumstance, the Chinese military has decided to participate in the IAG 2020 in Russia as scheduled. What are the main considerations?
Answer: In China’s annual military planning, to participate in the IAG 2020 is an important foreign-related training task. The COVID-19 pandemic raging in many countries across the world has greatly affected the organization of the event. In the context of such background, Chinese military’s participation in the event is a strategic decision made after careful consideration, and is of special significance.
First, the Games will strengthen China-Russia strategic cooperation. On July 8, Chinese President Xi Jinping had a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, emphasizing that with the rapidly changing international situation at the moment, it is necessary for China and Russia, as comprehensive strategic partners of cooperation, to maintain close strategic communication and cooperation. The IAG is an important event initiated by Russia focusing on creating "Military Olympics" and has been promoted with vast material and financial resources. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian Ministry of Defense decided to hold the competition as scheduled. This shows that the Russian side attaches great importance to the event. China’s proactive participation demonstrates its substantial support to the relationship between the two militaries.
Second, the IAG serves as an important stage for promoting international military exchanges and cooperation. In competing and communicating with foreign counterparts in the international arena, the Chinese troops could demonstrate openness and self-confidence together with their excellent technical and tactical skills. Besides, it could learn from foreign militaries and deepen military exchanges and cooperation.
Third, this is a nice attempt to explore the way to organize competitions amid epidemics. The complexity and stubbornness of this year's COVID-19 pandemic have exceeded our expectations with the situation uprising in one country after another. The Chinese military can jointly explore effective ways and means to organize international military exchange activities amid epidemic with Russia, which will be of practical value for holding joint military training amid such epidemic situation.
Fourth, this shows China's firm confidence in its comprehensive and meticulous preparations for epidemic prevention and control. In June, the Chinese military sent a guard of honor to Russia to participate in the military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory against the Nazis in World War II. It has, therefore, accumulated preliminary experiences in carrying out missions abroad amid epidemic, and also got familiar with Russia’s measures to deal with the epidemic. This time for the IAG 2020, the Chinese military has been equipped with medical equipment and materials, established the emergency response mechanism and coordinated with Russia on epidemic prevention and control. It is fair to say that the measures taken are more sufficient and the personnel safety could be guaranteed.
Question: Under the context that the global COVID-19 situation is still grim, Russia's decision to continue the IAG 2020 shows that it attaches great importance to the event. What are China's expectations and arrangements for the long-term development of the IAG?
Answer: The IAG initiated by the Russian Ministry of Defense has become an open platform for international military exchanges and cooperation. Affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia has cancelled some international military exchange and cooperation programs this year. The hosting of the Games fully shows the significance Russia has attached to the event.
The Chinese military has started to participate in the IAG since 2014, and to host the games at home since 2017. So far, China has ranked second only next to Russia in terms of the competition numbers it has participated and hosted, as well as the participant numbers concerning the services and arms. In addition, China has also invested a lot in the construction of venues and facilities for competitions such as "Suvorov Attack", "Clear Sky", "Seaborne Assault", "Airborne Platoon" and "Aviadarts" with high standards. In all, China has made positive contributions to promoting the IAG.
In the context of the continuous strengthening of the strategic cooperative partnership between China and Russia, there is still room for further expansion and deepening of the exchanges and cooperation between the two militaries.
First, the openness of the Games could be further improved. This military competition is an open international exchange and cooperation program similar to Olympic Games in terms of organizational model. It has evolved from a few competitions such as the "Tank Biathlon" and "Aviadarts" to an enormous system composed of more than 30 competitions covering the professional teams of various services and arms.
In addition to the Russian military, the militaries of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and other countries have set up their own special competitions. The Chinese military, however, has not independently initiated any competition, which is not commensurate with its contributions to the games. The Chinese military will strengthen communication with the Russian side in the future, discuss on establishing events with the characteristics of Chinese military within the competition framework, or make some transformation on the existing high-quality competitions.
Second, the advanced nature of the Games could be further enhanced. The Russian military has set up the competition rules and contents in accordance with the concept of warfare, so the competition events are supposed to be more targeted and practical in tactical design. However, most of the current events are of the basic and traditional content, on a single combat platform and in combat units of platoons or squads. There are few competitions for new-type forces such as UAVs, intelligent systems, surface-to-air missile systems, etc., not to mention the lack of competitions for troops at different levels in various services and arms.
To push it forward, countries could work together to study and set up competitions of more guiding, actual combat and testing significance, so as to further promote pragmatic exchanges and cooperation among the armed forces of friendly countries.
Finally, the Games’ role of demonstration could be further enhanced. Over the past few years, Chinese military has been deeply involved in the development of competition refereeing and organizational rules, together with the revisions of competition rules and standards. Chinese military organized commanders, referees, contestants and translators to write down experiences, and made in-depth study of foreign military experience and practices. A group of results has thereby come into being progressively.