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Mother Russia Meets the Middle Kingdom: Chinese and Russian military forces kicked off their much-hyped joint military exercise Thursday, with warships, aircraft, and 10,000 troops gathering on China’s northern coastline ostensibly to thwart an unspecified terrorist threat. Various news reports already highlight possible diplomatic angles to the exercise. For example, the real reason for the joint maneuvers is to make the US believe Russia would enter the fray on China’s side in any military confrontation with the United States over Taiwan. Washington isn’t sweating it, however.