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In a sign of their ever-growing alliance, China and Russia will hold their first joint military exercise this year. The announcement came as Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov visited Beijing and was expected to discuss increasing Moscow's multibillion-dollar annual arms sales to China. "We want...to promote the development of the two countries' strategic collaborative relationship in order to safeguard and promote regional and world peace," the official China News Service quoted President Hu Jintao as telling Mr. Ivanov. The former Cold War rivals have built up military and political ties since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, driven in part by a joint desire to counter-balance U.S. global dominance.
China has become Russia's largest customer of military technology and products. It is expected that the 2004 package will be worth $2 billion. While the U.S. and the EU have banned weapons exports to China since the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, Russia has greatly assisted in advancing and growing the Chinese military, supplying it with high-performance Su-27 fighters and other advanced arms.
Mr. Ivanov also met with Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan and Guo Boxiong, deputy chairman of the Communist Party commission that runs China's military. Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to visit Moscow in May during festivities commemorating the end of World War II.
Source: Seattle Post Intelligencer