The Nepal Army said on Wednesday that its first joint military exercise with China’s People’s Liberation Army, to be held in February, will be a routine engagement on a small scale.
Brig Tara Bahadur Karki, the army spokesperson, told Hindustan Times that the exercise hardly has any strategic implications.
Some circles in New Delhi had raised eyebrows over the exercise that will begin on February 10 and mostly be held along the northern border of Nepal. The joint exercise will focus on counter-terrorism and disaster management.
Nepal and India recently concluded the tenth in a series of joint exercises called Surya Kiran that focussed on similar issues. The Nepal Army regularly conducts exercises with India, the US and other countries that contribute troops for UN peacekeeping missions.
The proposed exercise with China, code-named Pratikar-1, will be held on a “very small level” and involve units smaller than a platoon, Karki said. Beijing had proposed the drill.
“Though military exchanges between China and Nepal are taking place in a regular way at various levels, such as visits, (exchanges of) delegations, and defence courses, a joint military exercise is taking place for the first time,” Karki said.
“Several aspects of the military exercise are yet to be discussed with the Chinese side,” he added.
During an official visit by Nepal’s army chief to China in March, Gen Fang Fenghui, a member of China’s Central Military Commission, had said, “China is also willing to expand bilateral defence and security cooperation, strengthen strategic communication and exchange at all levels between militaries of the two countries, deepen cooperation in humanitarian aid and disaster relief actions, prevent and crack down on "Tibetan separatism" activities to jointly safeguard regional peace and stability.”