27 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- China says its armed forces have today begun a military exercise that is being monitored by foreign observers.
The official Xinhua news agency said 16,000 soldiers are carrying out the maneuvers in the Inner Mongolia region.
The news agency said some 40 military observers from 24 countries, including the United States, North Korea, Russia, and major European and NATO member countries, are observing the "North Sword 2005" exercises.
A Chinese officer is quoted as saying the exercises will allow Chinese and foreign armed forces to learn from each other and promote mutual trust and understanding.
The exercises follow August's joint military exercises
between China and Russia.