PLA border troops team to visit India for first time after Doklam stand-off
A Chinese delegation comprising border troops from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will head to India this year, Beijing has announced amid a thaw following the tense military standoff at Doklam near the Sikkim boundary last year.
Bilateral defence exchanges were suspended after the 72-day standoff, which saw troops from both sides locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation at Doklam or Donglang, an area claimed by Bhutan but under China’s control.
Both countries endorsed the need to resume military ties when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping for an informal' summit at Wuhan in central China during April 28-29.
Following the summit, it was announced that “strategic guidance” would be issued to the two militaries to ensure peace and tranquillity on the borders.
Details of the PLA visit to India are currently being discussed, a Chinese defence spokesperson said on Thursday.
“Currently, the two sides are in consultation with each other on the upcoming visit to India by the border defence delegation from the Western Theatre Command of the PLA,” spokesperson Ren Guoqiang said.
“These border-related exchanges between the two sides at different levels will help to strengthen the management and control of border areas. They will also help to build trust between the field troops of the two sides and translate the consensus reached by the two heads of state into real actions,” he said.
Ren added: “The two sides are also in contact with each other regarding other cooperation programs.
“Both China and India are big countries in Asia and we are also each other’s important neighbours. The Chinese side attaches great importance to the development of the military-to-military relationship with the Indian side.”
Elaborating on the consensus during the Wuhan summit, Ren said: “Under the guidance of the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, we are willing to work with the Indian side to expand exchanges, strengthen cooperation, built mutual trust, properly manage differences, and facilitate the development of the military-to-military relationship in a healthy and stable manner.”
This will enable the two countries to “jointly maintain peace and tranquillity in border areas and safeguard peace and stability in this region”, he added.