China, India defence ministers to meet today

China, India defence ministers to meet today

Resumption of joint military exercise on agenda

Defence ministers from India and China will meet here on Tuesday seeking to rejuvenate the bilateral military relationship, which may include resumption of an annual army exercise that was stopped abruptly after the first two editions.

 Recommencement of hand-in-hand exercise on counter-terrorism involving a platoon of Army soldiers began in 2007 in Kunming province. It stopped after the 2008 exercise in Belgaum in Karnataka.

 Resumption of this token exercise between the world’s two largest armies is on the agenda of the meeting between defence minister A K Antony and his Chinese counterpart Gen Liang Guanglie.

Gen Liang is the first Chinese defence minister to visit India since 2004 when then defence minister Gen Cao Gangchuan visited India. In 2006, then defence minister Pranab Mukherjee made the reciprocal visit to China.

The visiting defence minister will meet Chairman, Chief of Staff Committee and Indian Air Force Chief N A K Browne and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also on Tuesday.

He would also be given a Guard of Honour. Gen Liang has decided to pay his homage to Amar Jawan Jyoti in India Gate, which was created in the memory of Indian soldiers died in wars including one with China. The visit comes months before the 50th anniversary of India’s defeat in 1962.   

Interestingly a day before his meeting with the Chinese defence minister, Antony reminded the Lok Sabha that 43,180 sq km of Indian territory (slightly more than total area in Kerala) is in illegal Chinese possession since 1962. 

This includes 38,000 sq km of area in Jammu and Kashmir, which is under Chinese occupation and 5,180 sq km of Indian territory in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, which Pakistan ceded to China as per the 1963 China-Pakistan boundary agreement.

In addition, China claims 90,000 sq km of Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh, Antony informed the Lok Sabha.

As many as 15 rounds of border talks – the last one was held in January --  between two emerging Asian powerhouses failed to make any headway.

The bilateral meeting is taking place at a time when India is taking steps to match Beijing’s improved military infrastructure close to the border and Tibet Autonomous Region.

But the military relations between two rising Asian economic powers halted in 2010 when China refused to give visa to then Northern Army Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal who was to visit China as a part of an official delegation.

The icy relationship thawed in December 2011, when Beijing and New Delhi resumed the annual military dialogue.

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