Chinese defence chief says his visit to Moscow is a signal to the US

Kinling Lo — South China Morning Post April 4, 2018

China’s new defence minister said his visit to Russia is a signal to the United States about the increasingly close military ties between Moscow and Beijing.

The unusually bold statement on Tuesday by General Wei Fenghe at the start of his talks with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu reflected the growing military cooperation between the two former Communist rivals.

Speaking in Moscow, Wei emphasised that he chose Russia for his first trip abroad since becoming the international face of China’s military last month to “show the world a high level of development of our bilateral relations and firm determination of our armed forces to strengthen strategic cooperation.”

Wei added he would attend a security conference on Wednesday hosted by the Russian Defence Ministry to “let the Americans know about the close ties between the armed forces of China and Russia.”

Shoigu said Wei’s visit “underlines a special character of relations between Russia and China”, adding that it will help further deepen ties between the two militaries.

Moscow and Beijing have forged what they described as a “strategic partnership”, expressing their shared opposition to the “unipolar” world – the term they use to describe perceived US global domination.

As part of their burgeoning military cooperation, Moscow and Beijing have conducted joint military manoeuvres, including exercises in the South China Sea and last summer’s joint navy drills in the Baltics.

The Baltic exercise marked the first time that China had flexed its military muscle in a region where tensions between Russia and Nato have escalated following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

In December, the Russian and Chinese militaries held missile defence drills intended to practise a joint response to missile threats from other countries.