China thanks ‘efforts’ of heads of state for ‘improving’ military ties with India
Military ties between India and China are improving as the two armies maintain strategic dialogue and strengthen exchanges along the border, the Chinese defence ministry said on Thursday.
The relationship between the two militaries is an important part of the overall relationship and the Chinese military is willing to work with their Indian counterpart to contribute to its growth, Senior PLA Colonel Wu Qian said in Beijing.
Wu was speaking of bilateral military ties in the context of the joint counter-terrorism exercise held at Umroi near Shillong in Meghalaya, which concluded last week.
“It (military ties) is an important component of the overall relationship. Thanks to the efforts of the two heads of state, the military relationship is improving and the two countries maintain strategic dialogues and conduct practical cooperation and (have) also strengthened their exchanges along the borders,” Wu said.
Wu said the Chinese military was willing to work with its Indian counterpart to promote the growth of general bilateral ties.
“We are willing to work together with the Indian side to follow the guidance of our heads of state and promote military to military relationship, continue to develop along the right and make more contributions to the growth of bilateral relations,” Wu said at the monthly defence ministry press conference.
Against the backdrop of overall bilateral ties riddled with the festering border dispute and the new diplomatic differences, defence links between two of the world’s largest militaries have remained cool at best and have occasionally even turned hostile as during the 73-day Doklam standoff in 2017.
One highlight of a military-to-military exchange between the two countries in 2019 was the Indian navy’s frontline warships, INS Kolkata, an indigenously built stealth destroyer, participating in People’s Liberation Army Navy’s 70th-anniversary fleet review in April along with fleet tanker INS Shakti, one of the Indian Navy’s largest ships.
This month’s 14-day China-India Army “Hand-in-Hand 2019” joint counter-terrorism exercise held in Meghalaya was in fact just the 8th version of the only formal mechanism the two countries have for a bilateral military drill.
The mechanism is a way to forge a friendship between troops, Wu said.
Both militaries had sent 130 service members for the joint exercise.
“This joint training is to implement the consensus of the national and military leaders of the two countries and to strengthen the friendship of their troops and to promote regional peace and stability,” Wu said.
“During the joint training, soldiers from the two sides have had mixed team training exercises and exchanged experiences in counter-terrorism operations and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. They also had exchanges in culture, historic, sports and culinary areas,” he said.
Wu said the joint exercise helped to strengthen mutual trust.
“The exercises and training showed the determination of the two sides to fight terrorism and to protect stability in the region. It also helped to strengthen mutual trust and cooperation between the two militaries,” Wu said.
The year 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and India and the two militaries have planned various exchanges and celebrations, Wu said.
In the list of 70 activities, the two countries plan to hold next year to mark 70 years of ties, activities related to the military come quite late in the list.
The three events include a visit by a mid-level tri-service India delegation to China, Indian naval ships China visit and a joint performance of military bands in Beijing.