Maintaining peace along the disputed border will continue to be the focus of the armed forces, India and China said on Friday amid new reports of Chinese incursions in Ladakh and a day after Beijing said a “huge dispute” in Arunachal Pradesh was an “undeniable fact”.
The separate statements came after senior defence officials and military officers from both sides met in Beijing on Friday for the 7th annual defence dialogue.
The meetings, led by defence secretary RK Mathur from the Indian side, were kept low-key and little was shared about the agenda of the discussions.
Indian diplomats declined to share details of the meetings and China too kept mum.
The silence was symptomatic of the unease that exists between the two nuclear-armed militaries — engagements between the personnel have been sporadic and mired in the legacy of the 1962 war.
The two armies have had only four joint exercises, which experts say were very basic anti-terrorism drills. The third exercise, in fact, was held in China in 2013 after a gap of five years as India had called off bilateral exercises in 2008 following the controversy over Beijing issuing a stapled visa to senior Indian officer from Arunachal Pradesh. The fourth was held in Pune last November.
The annual defence dialogue was co-chaired by Mathur and Deputy Chief of General Staff Admiral Sun Jianguo.
A late night cut-and-dry statement issued by the Indian embassy said China’s senior most military officer, Fan Changlong, vice-chairperson of the Central Military Commission, was likely to visit India later this year. The Central Military Commission is headed by President Xi Jinping.
It added that the next installment of the bilateral “hand-in-hand” army exercise will be held in China this year.