Enhanced understanding between the Indian and Chinese armed forces, two of the largest nuclear-armed militaries in the world that seldom holds drills, will be in focus during 11-day joint counter-terrorism exercise that was kicked off in the southern city of Kunming on Monday.
Called the “hand-in-hand”, this year’s edition will be fifth in the series between the two militaries, known to be more involved in stand-offs across the disputed border than holding elaborate exercises.
A company from India’s 2nd battalion of the Naga regiment comprising 175 personnel from the Eastern Command landed in Kunming an Il-76 aircraft on Sunday. A same number of personnel from the People’s Liberation Army’s infantry battalion’s 14 corps will take part in the exercise.
“..joint military exercises will help enhance mutual understanding and communication and cooperation between the armed forces of India and China,” Lt. General Zhou Xiaozhou, deputy commander of the Chengdu Military Region, one of China’s seven military regions, said at the inauguration on Monday.
“India and China have agreed that peace and tranquility in the border areas is an important prerequisite for continued growth of bilateral relations. In this regard, the two countries have put in place several confidence building measures (CBMs) and the joint military exercises are an important component of the CBMs,” AK Kantha, Indian ambassador, said.
Kantha added that as terrorism emerges as a major threat, the counter terror cooperation between the two militaries has added significance. The Chinese state media has welcomed the exercise.
“... a joint military exercise is a barometer of bilateral relationships. As a new measure of establishing mutual trust, there is no point in making a fuss over the drill. Confrontations in recent years were not created on purpose, but happened by accident. Leaders from both China and India have consensus and enough means to take divergences under control,” Wang Dehua, director of Institute for the Southern and Central Asian Studies at the Shanghai Municipal Center for International Studies, wrote in the state-run Global Times newspaper.
Wang added: “Both China and India have agreed to enhance their military cooperation, and to boost people-to-people exchanges. New Delhi has also suggested bilateral cooperation in anti-terrorism, combating smuggling by sea and anti-piracy operations. Joint military drills will surely promote bilateral collaboration.”