Lao, Chinese Troops Organize Rare Military Exercise in Laos

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Lao, Chinese Troop Join Military Exercise in Laos
On the outskirts of Zhumadian, Henan province, soldiers from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) take part in a military drill with troops from Pakistan, Mongolia, and Thailand as part of a U.N. peacekeeping exercise. (photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Southern Theater Command and the Lao People’s Armed Forces are conducting a joint military exercise this month in Laos.

According to Reuters, the joint military exercise, titled “Friendship Shield 2023”, is scheduled to run from May 9 to May 28 and will simulate attacks on transnational armed criminal groups.

The event will involve over 900 personnel, with more than 200 Chinese soldiers, according to China’s state television. This drill represents a significant development from the previous joint humanitarian medical rescue exercises between the Chinese and Laotian military known as the “Peace Train”.

This year China has also conducted military naval drills alongside Cambodia in Cambodian waters, once again involving its Southern Command.

During an official visit by Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith to Beijing last November, Chinese President Xi Jinping conveyed to the Lao leader that the two nations must strive to “build a shared future between China and Laos.”

The joint military exercise indicates that China and Laos are keen to strengthen their relationship and coordinate efforts to maintain regional peace and stability. The move also highlights China’s growing military and political influence in Southeast Asia.