MOSCOW, August 18 (RIA Novosti) - A wave of criticism from the West has intensified Russia's and China's sense of strategic isolation, which is pushing them toward rapprochement, a Canadian military expert on East Asia told a popular Russian daily Thursday.
Speaking to Vremya Novostei about Peace Mission-2005, Russian-Chinese war games in the Far East, Yihong Zhang said the exercises showed that Russia and China trusted each other more now than they did in the past.
The expert said China was deliberately exaggerating the degree of its rapprochement with Russia because Beijing took the view that the exercises could be used to threaten Taiwan, and send a warning to Japan and the United States. Zhang said the move had been successful, as some newspapers in Hong Kong and Taiwan had already written that Russia would help China annex Taiwan.
However, Zhang said he was convinced this would not happen because Russia had no such commitments to China, and if a conflict broke out around Taiwan, Russia would not take on Japan and the U.S.
However, he said the exercises were politically advantageous for Russia. According to the expert, Russia and China have had more clashes with the West, and the exercises have given them an opportunity to remind the West of their military might.
The expert said stronger military ties between Washington, Japan and South Korea would ensue as a reaction to Moscow-Beijing military rapprochement.
Zhang said Americans might also invite Russia to take part in a similar war game in the Far East to ease their allies' concerns about a Chinese-Russian alliance. A similar proposal may also come from Japan - with due account for the country's legislation, which prohibits its soldiers from traveling overseas, the newspaper said.
The expert said the exercises had both political and military significance, as it was important for both armies to organize military cooperation, including in management, control, liaison and reconnaissance.