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    Commonwealth-2005 exercises unprecedented

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    BEIJING/HONG KONG, July 18 (RIA Novosti, Mark Zavadsky) - The Commonwealth-2005 Russian-Chinese joint military exercises scheduled for late August 2005 are unprecedented in Chinese history, said Major General Zhu Chenghu, deputy director of the Institute for Strategic Studies of the National Defense University.

    The exercises, scheduled for August 18-25, 2005, will take part in three stages. The first stage (August 18-19) will be held in the Far Eastern Military District. It will include military-political consultations between the chiefs of the Russian and Chinese general staffs in Vladivostok. The second and third stages will take place in China.

    About 3,000 Russian troops (from the Air Force, Airborne Forces, and Navy) and 5,000 Chinese troops will be involved in the exercises.

    The agreement to conduct the first-ever Russian-Chinese military exercises was decided during Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov's visit to China on December 12-13, 2004. The purpose of the joint exercises is to practice anti-terrorist operations.

    General Zhu Chenghu said he was convinced that the bilateral military cooperation had good prospects.

    "Russia and China are concerned with the situation in East Asia," he said. "I believe they will be able to solve regional security problems jointly."

    "We will test the compatibility of our military systems to promote mutual trust between Russia and China," he added.

    Chief of the Russian General Staff Yury Baluyevsky said earlier that the upcoming exercises would not be aimed against third countries. He denied all media allegations that Russia and China were set to practice an invasion of Taiwan.

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