China, India military personnel get ready to exercise in Pune

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: Nov 14, 2014 08:36 IST

China on Thursday confirmed that soldiers from the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the largest armed forces in the world, will take part in an anti-terror exercise with the Indian army in Pune.

The brief statement did not specify dates but said the exercise will be held in the "near future".

A statement from the Indian government put the date at November 16.

The fourth instalment of the bilateral exercise is expected to familiarise the two vast militaries even as the personnel frequently get locked in stand-offs along the long and disputed border.

Experts say for two neighbours with large militaries India and China have little communication.

An anonymous military source told the official news agency, Xinhua, that 139 Chinese soldiers will take part in the exercise called "Hand-in-Hand".

Both militaries have held three similar exercises before, the last one being held exactly a year ago in November outside the city of Chengdu in southwest China.

"A company of 139 soldiers from southwest China's Chengdu Military Command will join their Indian counterparts and conduct drills in urban cities and townships. The two sides will also send representatives to observe the drills," Xinhua reported.

The training and manoeuvres, to be conducted at Aundh Military Cantonment, College of Military Engineering and firing ranges at Dighi, Pune.

The first exercise was held in southwest China's Yunnan Province in 2007 and the second in Belgaum in Karnakata.

The exercises so far been held across terrain that is hilly.

The drill, according to state media, had been coordinated through talks between the two countries' leaders and military.

Last year, more than 150 soldiers from the 16 Sikh Light Infantry, and an equal number of Chinese infantry personnel, took part in the nine-day exercise that culminated in a simulated live fire anti-terrorist exercise at the Miaoergang Comprehensive Training Facility, some 130 km south of Chengdu.

The exercise was held after a gap of five years as India had called off bilateral exercises in 2008 following the controversy over China issuing a stapled visa to senior Indian officer from Arunachal Pradesh.

Less than two months ago during the India visit of President Xi Jinping, personnel from the two militaries were engaged in a face-off in the Chumar sector in the Ladakh region.

Lieutenant General Zhou Xiaozhou, chief of staff of Chengdu Military Region (CMR), had told HT last year there were "friction and twists and turns in the relationship between the two countries… but it is not a big deal.

Zhou said military relations were an important part of bilateral ties, adding that India and China were friends and partners and not rivals.

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