China, UAE air forces to hold first joint exercise in Xinjiang amid Uyghur genocide
The Chinese and UAE air forces will train together in August in Xinjiang province, where the Chinese state has subjected the Uyghur Muslim ethnic group to "crimes against humanity", according to human rights groups.
The Falcon Shield-2023 training – the first joint exercise between the two nations' air forces – was announced by Beijing's defence ministry on Monday.
The exercise seeks to "deepen pragmatic exchange and cooperation" between the Chinese and UAE militaries and "promote mutual understanding and trust", the ministry said in a statement.
It comes after an agreement was announced earlier this year to export China's L15 training jet to the Gulf state, Beijing's Global Times state newspaper reported. The UAE also possesses Chinese drones.
In Xinjiang province, Uyghurs and members of other Muslim ethnic groups have faced mass detentions, forced labour, torture, and forced sterilisation. Chinese authorities have been accused of committing genocide.
The joint exercise between China and the UAE in August comes amid increased involvement by Beijing in the Middle East and waning US influence.
China brokered an agreement earlier this year between bitter rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume relations after a turbulent seven-year break.
Chinese and allied countries' infantries used Xinjiang for training in 2016, with the Pakistani air force conducting joint exercises in the province in 2017, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.
The UAE is considered a US ally although relations between the two countries have recently come under strain amid a refusal by the UAE to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
The Emirati armed forces use American equipment and Washington and the UAE regularly hold joint exercises.