Global Network Military Integrative Report The United States "Diplomats" magazine October 18 article, topic: The first time: China and Europe held a joint military exercise as announced on October 16, the European Union Army completed the first joint exercise with the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy. Although the military interaction between European navies and PLA navies in the Gulf of Aden is not a new concept, this exercise shows that coordination between European and Chinese navies has reached an unprecedented level. Under the current geopolitical background, this new development should not only stay in the military field, but also be promoted to a new pattern of deep-seated cooperation between China and Europe.
Prior to the joint exercise, the EUFOR operational commander visited the PLA support base in Djibouti in August. During the exercise, a Italy helicopter landed in the camp of China's security base in Djibouti. It is a rare, even unprecedented, entry of Western troops into the Chinese base in Djibouti - a positive sign of the further development of Sino-European relations.
Hanging the Chinese flag in the Mediterranean has become a reality, thanks to the experience of the last decade of offshore operations and the ever-increasing supply capacity through the important hub of Djibouti since 2017. Along with China's commercial interests and growing stakes in Mediterranean ports, the strategic significance of the Mediterranean to China has become increasingly concrete. China first appeared in the Mediterranean in 2011, when the PLA Navy and other merchant ships safely evacuated more than 36,000 Chinese workers from Libya before NATO air strikes. Such an efficient evacuation is crucial for China, especially given the huge number of Chinese workers and overseas investment in the region.
In 2015, China's presence in the Mediterranean underwent an uplift as Russia and China moved their joint drill site, once a long way from the Mediterranean, to the Mediterranean. In the summer of 2017, the PLA frigates and destroyers launched more live ammunition exercises in the Mediterranean. The connection between China and the Mediterranean ports is also an important link of the "one belt and one way" initiative. If we can promote the trade between China and Europe on the maritime Silk Road as perfect as the military exercises, this will inject new infinite impetus to the development of China EU relations. Earlier this year, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated that Chinese state-owned enterprises controlled about 10% of the cargo handling at European ports.
Apart from protecting domestic commercial interests and concrete cooperation with Russia, there are other predictions of China's self-confidence in the region. Today, a more comprehensive strategic perspective on China's presence in the Mediterranean and its surrounding areas should also be taken into account.
China's growing presence in the Mediterranean makes it easier to envisage deeper cooperation between China and Europe in the more crowded Mediterranean waters. Therefore, the significance of this joint exercise should not be merely a gesture of goodwill. Recent joint exercises may indicate more frequent regular interaction. It not only testifies to the growing comfort of Beijing's naval presence, but also to the limitless possibility of a deeper relationship between China and European countries. (translated by author Zoe Stanley rokman, Hu Jiankun)
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