Armenia and China have agreed to step up their military cooperation, the Armenian Defense Ministry said on Friday at the end of a three-day visit to Yerevan by a top Chinese military official.
The official, Rear Admiral Guan Youfei, is the head of the Office for International Military Cooperation under China’s Central Military Commission that oversees the Chinese armed forces.
Guan met with Defense Minister Vigen Sargsian, the chief of the Armenian army staff, Lieutenant General Movses Hakobian, and Deputy Defense Minister Davit Pakhchanian during the trip. Pakhchanian runs a Defense Ministry division overseeing the Armenian defense industry.
“Agreements were reached on expanding cooperation and implementing a number of mutually beneficial projects in the area of defense,” the ministry said in a statement. It did not elaborate.
The statement also said that Guan and another senior Armenian defense official, Levon Ayvazian, signed a plan of joint activities by the Armenian and Chinese militaries for this year. It further quoted Sargsian as saying that bilateral relations should be extended to “new areas.”
Chinese-Armenian military ties appear to have already deepened in the last several years. The two states signed an agreement on “military and military-technical cooperation” in 2012 almost two years before Sargsian’s predecessor, Seyran Ohanian, paid an official visit to Beijing. Also in 2012, several Chinese military officials visited Yerevan to lecture Armenia’s top army generals on China’s traditional strategies of warfare.
In 2011, Armenia reportedly acquired Chinese AR1A multiple-launch rocket systems with a firing range of more than 100 kilometers. Yerevan has not officially confirmed that acquisition, though.
China’s President Xi Jinping and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian apparently discussed defense issues when they met in Beijing in March 2015. A 5-page joint communique released by them after the talks said the two nations will “continue their practical partnership in areas such as mutual visits by military delegations, training of military personnel, and provision of military aid.”
The declaration also said Xi and Sarkisian noted “mutual understanding on issues relating to pivotal interests and concerns of the two countries.” In particular, they agreed that each side would outlaw on its territory organizations that could pose a threat to the other’s “sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.” In that regard, Sarkisian reaffirmed Armenia’s unequivocal support for Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.