*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, China - August 11, 2009: China's military on Aug. 11 launched its largest tactical military exercise, involving 50,000 heavily-armored troops in a long-distance deployment spanning thousands of kilometers, state press said. People's Liberation Army soldiers stand in formation during a military exercise in Beijing, China. China took foreign journalists on a tour of the People's Liberation Army division north of the capital, calling it a sign the world's largest army is improving its openness and transparency. The visit comes to marks the 82nd anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army, which now has 2.3 million members. The live-fire maneuvers, dubbed "Stride-2009," will involve a division each from the Shenyang, Lanzhou, Jinan and Guangzhou regional military commands and will last for two months, Xinhua news agency said. "In the unprecedented exercise, one of the PLA's major objectives will be to improve its capacity of long-range projection," the report said, citing the general staff of the People's Liberation Army. "Unlike previous annual tactical exercises, the army divisions and their air units will be deployed in unfamiliar areas far from their garrison training bases by civilian rail and air transport." This means troops, tanks, vehicles and weapons systems from Shenyang in the northeast will be deployed to Lanzhou in the northwest, while similar exchanges will take place between Jinan in the east and Guangzhou in the south, it said. According to the People's Liberation Army Daily, the exercises will simulate Chinese victories in the war against Japan (1937-45) and victories against U.S. troops during the Korean War (1950-53). Following annual double-digit growth in defense spending over most of the last 20 years, China's rapidly modernizing military has kept pace with the nation's rising political and economic clout. The United States, Japan and their allies have repeatedly expressed concern about China's military build-up and what they see as a lack of transparency about the intent behind the expansion. With 2.3 million soldiers, the People's Liberation Army is the world's largest military.
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