Visiting Chinese military officials on Wednesday presented Armenia’s top army commanders with China’s traditional strategies of warfare at a conference in Yerevan that highlighted growing defense cooperation between the two nations.
The conference held at the Armenian Defense Ministry behind the closed doors was officially devoted to the works of Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher. He is best known as the author of “The Art of War,” a world-famous book on military strategy.
A ministry statement said the “scientific conference” was opened by Colonel-General Yuri Khachaturov, chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, and attended by his deputies, heads of Defense Ministry departments as well as the commanders of army corps. It did not publicize Khachaturov’s opening remarks.
The one-day event involved a lecture by Colonel Zhen Li, one of several officials from the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences who arrived in Armenia on Monday. The academy is the research arm of the People’s Liberation Army of China.
“The specialists from the Chinese Military Academy of Sciences answered professional questions asked by Armenian military officials,” the statement said without elaborating.
The presence of Armenia’s virtually entire military command at the event underscored the significance of military ties with Beijing for Yerevan. The Armenian and Chinese governments reportedly pledged to deepen them during a visit to Armenia by a high-ranking Chinese Defense Ministry delegation last January. A Chinese general heading the delegation met with Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and other senior Armenian officials.
The January visit resulted in the signing of what the Armenian Defense Ministry described as an “agreement on bilateral military and military-technical cooperation.” No details of that agreement were made public.
The mostly unpublicized defense links between Armenia and China date back to the late 1990s. Armenia received at the time several batteries of Chinese WM-80 multiple-launch rocket systems that have a firing range of up to 80 kilometers. Their delivery prompted protests from Azerbaijan.
China has also trained several dozen Armenian officers at its military academies. Meeting with a visiting Chinese army general in 2004, then Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian thanked Beijing for its “assistance” provided to the Armenian armed forces.