The First Multinational Peacekeeping Exercise is held in China.

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The First Multinational Peacekeeping Exercise is held in China.

On Wednesday, China completed its first multinational peacekeeping exercise, displaying the breadth of its military strength on a vast training site surrounded by mountains.

China spends the second most on defense behind the United States, and tensions between competing nations have risen considerably as Beijing invests trillions of yuan in military modernization.

However, the country has tried to ease suspicions about its military plans by portraying itself as a peaceful alternative to Washington’s “bullying, hegemonic behavior.”

At the military installation in Queshan county in northern Henan province, troops from Thailand, Mongolia, and Pakistan joined China’s armed forces for the 10-day drill named “Shared Destiny 2021.”

As Beijing sought to put its defense diplomacy on full display, Senior Colonel Lu Jianxin told media invited to the base that the exercise “demonstrates China’s support for the multilateral system centered on the United Nations.”

Soldiers in blue helmets took turns acting out various situations, such as a brawl involving bystanders and refugees, or armed militants attacking UN forces.

For the ceremony, dozens of armoured vehicles, bulldozers, helicopters, and tanks were mobilized, all displaying the UN insignia.

According to UN figures, China was the eighth-largest supplier of peacekeeping soldiers as of the end of July, with 2,158 military personnel deployed around the world.

South Sudan, Mali, Lebanon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are among the countries where Chinese military are deployed.

Last month, US Vice President Kamala Harris criticized China’s disputes with its neighbors over the South China Sea as eroding “the rules-based order” and endangering “national sovereignty.”

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