China, UAE to hold first-ever joint military drill, likely a ‘message’ to US: Analysts

Though few details of the exercise are known, analysts said the emirates could be sending a signal to Washington about security “options” in the region.

BEIRUT — Chinese armed forces will hold the first ever military drills with United Arab Emirates in China this month, in a move that raised eyebrows for analysts as Washington and Beijing vie for influence in the Gulf.

Falcon Shield 2023, which will feature joint air force training for the two countries, will take place in Xinjiang in northwest China, a statement from the Chinese ministry of defense said Monday, “according to the annual plan and the consensus reached by China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).”

The statement added that the training aims to deepen pragmatic exchanges and cooperation between the two militaries and enhance mutual understanding and trust, though it provided few details as to the exercise’s scope. The UAE ministry of defense did not respond to Breaking Defense’s request for comment as of publication.

Analysts told Breaking Defense it was difficult to say what the joint exercise means for the China-UAE relationship, but it’s hard not to read it as a “message” to the US, even if it was only the Chinese who made the announcement.


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