Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why China training with NATO ally matters

It is learnt that Chinese Air Force planes had refuelled in Pakistan and Iran last month while on their way to Turkey to participate in a joint air exercise with the Turkish Air Force. On the way back, they refueled only in Iran. The air exercise preceded the recent visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to Turkey. Turkey's agreement to hold a joint exercise with the People's Liberation Army (Air Force) is significant for two reasons. Firstly, Turkey agreed to participate in the exercise and to host Wen despite the considerable unhappiness and anger caused among the religious elements of Turkey last year over the suppression of the Uighurs of Xinjiang by the PLA.

The Munich-based World Uighur Congress, which Beijing [ Images ] blamed for the Uighur uprising in Xinjiang last year, enjoys considerable support in Turkey. Secondly, the Obama [ Images ] administration does not appear to have opposed the joint exercise despite the fact that the planes of the Turkish Air Force that participated in the joint exercise had been given by the US. Details of the exercise have been carried by the People's Daily in China on the basis of Western and Turkish media reports.Turkish press reports confirmed the unprecedented involvement of PLA (Air Force) jets in Turkey's annual joint exercises, known as Anatolian Eagle, held over the centre of the country.

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