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India, China begin military exercise

The two biggest economies of Southeast Asia - India and China, who fought a battle in 1962, began their second military exercise focusing primarily on counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations.

india Updated: Dec 06, 2008 12:55 IST

The two biggest economies of Southeast Asia - India and China, who fought a fierce battle in 1962, began the second leg of historic joint military exercises focussed primarily on counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in Karnataka's Belgaum town on Saturday.

Though it is the second military exercise between the two nations, India and China are holding it for the first time on Indian soil.

The first army exercise was held in the Chinese city of Kunming in December 2007 following a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in May 2006 during a visit by the then defence minister (and current external affairs minister) Pranab Mukherjee to China.

Nearly 130 Chinese troops, including 40 officers, from the first company of the infantry battalion of Chengdu Military Area Command and Indian Army troops from the Eight Maratha Light Infantry Battalion are holding eight-day-long joint exercises in three phases at the Belgaum military command.

On the first day, both sides held a weapon and equipment display, followed by a special martial arts display by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China. The Indian side displayed 'malkhamb' and 'kalari payattu' (Kerala's traditional martial arts) to their counterparts.

Later, both sides jointly held a demonstration of counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations.

Throughout the exercise, troopers from both the countries are expected to undergo joint tactical manoeuvres and drills, inter-operability training and joint command post procedures, culminating in a joint counter-terrorist operational exercise with simulated enemies.

"The primary objective is to enhance mutual understanding and trust between the two countries and their armies. This exercise is very similar to what we had in December last year," said Major General V.K. Narula of the Indian Army.

"In this exercise we will try to remove the communication barriers that largely occurred during the first leg of the military exercises between the two countries. We are thinking of using the universally accepted sign language to remove the problem of communication," he told reporters.

Narula clarified that the current exercise has nothing to do with war combat and no special weapons are being used by either side.

"The exercise is for fighting terrorism and small weapons required in countering tactical insurgency are being used. We assure everyone that no secrets are being shared with the Chinese army," he said.

Huang Xue Ping, Chinese senior colonel (equivalent to the rank of brigadier in the Indian Army), who is leading the troops took questions on counter terrorism. However, both sides refrained from commenting on the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attacks that killed at least 172 people.

"We see terrorism as a danger to countries around the world. That calls for joint efforts from all countries and also to make joint training of counter terrorism," Ping said.

"We have always emphasised that counter-terrorism should not be targeted at any particular religion or any ethnic group. We should have convincing proof before we take action against them," he added.

Ping said China has so far performed military exercises with 10 nations.

First Published: Dec 06, 2008 11:09 IST