China media: Military drill

Tiananmen Square in Beijing Beijing wants to boost regional anti-terrorism efforts

Media and experts dismiss concerns that China's large-scale military exercise with Russia and other Central Asian nations "is targeted at any third party".

The week-long exercise, which ends on Friday, involves Russia, China and other members of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO).

The SCO group - including the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - was formed in 2001 to curb extremism in the region and enhance border security. It was widely viewed as a countermeasure to curb the influence of Western alliances such as Nato.

China's Defence Ministry describes the scale of the drill as "the largest to date", adding that it will play an important role in deterring the "three evil forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism", a report in the China Daily says.

Several papers have noted concerns in Western media outlets that the joint exercise was aimed at "challenging the US and Japan".

Noting the international media's attention to the drill, an article in the China Youth Daily explains that the annual exercise is transparent" and "has a clear goal of deterring terrorism in the region".

"China and Russia shoulder the important responsibility of maintaining regional peace as big nations… The purpose of the drill is not to weaken the influence of some country that is not in Asia. It is not even to challenge the world order led by that country or its allies," says the article.

It adds that the strengthening of China and Russia's military ties "will only bring good and no harm to peace and prosperity in Central Asia".

Echoing similar views, Zhang Junshe, the vice-president of the Naval Research Institute of China, tells the China Central Television that the SCO is "non-aligned, non-confrontational and not targeted at any third party".

"Since the US's announcement of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the three evil forces [of separatism, extremism and terrorism] have been more active. Their activities have been more rampant and have caused severe losses to life and properties of China and other countries in this region," says the pundit, adding that China and the SCO countries "should co-ordinate and co-operate more to fight against these threats and challenges".

Moscow's Tibet stance

Meanwhile, some media outlets describe Moscow's recent position over Tibet as "identical to that of Beijing's".

According to the People's Daily website, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov remarked in a youth forum on Wednesday that the exiled Tibetan religious leader the Dalai Lama "must fully distance himself from politics" if he wants to visit Russia.

The Dalai Lama's last trip to Russia was in 2004 when he paid a religious visit to the Republic of Kalmykia, where half of the population reportedly follows Tibetan Buddhism.

Tibet is governed as an autonomous region of China. Beijing says Tibet has developed considerably under its rule. But rights groups say China continues to violate human rights, accusing Beijing of severe political and religious repression.

"Moscow's stance over the Tibet question is becoming increasingly identical to that of Beijing's," Li Xing, an expert on Russian studies at Beijing Normal University, tells the Global Times.

The pundit adds that Russia and China have become "even closer" in the wake of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, and "Moscow now counts on Beijing's support on various fronts".

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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