India, China to resume army exercise

Decision was taken at a meeting between General Liang Guanglie and Antony

India, China to resume army exercise

India and China on Tuesday decided to resume bilateral army exercise and strengthen maritime cooperation to perk up strategic relations between the two emerging Asian powerhouses.

The decision came at the end of a 90-minute meeting between Defence Minister A K Antony and his Chinese counterpart General Liang Guanglie here.

 Antony said the next round of joint army exercise, titled “Hand-in-Hand,” will be conducted at the earliest. Both sides will work out a mutually convenient time and venue for the platoon-level exercise.  

A friendly gesture between two of the world’s largest armies, the first edition of the exercise was held at Kunming in 2007, followed by the second edition at Belgaum in 2008.

The third edition, supposed to be hosted by China in 2010, hit a roadblock after Beijing refused to grant visa to Lt Gen B S Jaswal, who was heading the Northern Command, as a part of an official delegation. A diplomatic row ensued and all military ties between New Delhi and Beijing were snapped.

Military ties resumed in 2011 when an annual defence dialogue was held. In May, an Indian warship, part of a fleet that went for an eastern deployment spanning over two months, made a port call in Shanghai.

Earlier in 2012, a Chinese training ship arrived at Kochi as a part of a circumnavigation tour.  Indian warships last visited China in 2009, when two destroyers went to Qingdao to participate in an international fleet review. The two sides proclaimed to promote port calls by naval ships and conduct joint maritime search and rescue operations. Naval cooperation will be strengthened to bolster anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.

Sea lanes

India and China, along with other Asian nations, are cooperating to protect the sea lanes in the Indian Ocean through which cargo and oil consignments are transported.

 Antony accepted Gen Liang’s invitation to visit China in 2013. However, Gen Liang is unlikely to retain the present position by the time Antony visits China, as the entire Chinese leadership is set for an overhaul next March.  Both ministers agreed to work together to enhance mutual trust on security issues and maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas, a Defence Ministry spokesperson said.

Bilateral cooperation

“Expanding bilateral cooperation between defence ministries and armed forces will help enhance mutual trust, strengthen friendship and promote comprehensive development of India, China strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity,” he said.
Gen Liang also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chairman and Chief of Staff Committee and IAF chief N A K Browne.

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