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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Modi-Xi summit: China says India didn’t hold military drill in Arunachal Pradesh

The exercise in question is the India Army’s “Him Vijay” drill, said to be taking place some 100 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) -- which divides India and China – in Arunachal Pradesh

world Updated: Oct 09, 2019 15:43 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with China’s President Mr. Xi Jinping inside a house boat in Wuhan’s East Lake, China on April 28, 2018.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with China’s President Mr. Xi Jinping inside a house boat in Wuhan’s East Lake, China on April 28, 2018.(File photo)
         

China is not worried about India holding a large-scale military exercise in the “disputed eastern sector” as it hasn’t taken place, a top Chinese diplomat said in Beijing on Wednesday after formally announcing President Xi Jinping’s visit to India, beginning October 11.

When asked by Chinese media whether China was concerned that the military exercises in the “disputed eastern sector” could impact the atmosphere of the summit, vice-foreign minister Luo Zhaohui said, “We have no worry at all because that is not true.”

Luo was speaking at a special briefing held to announce Xi’s visit to India for the second informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi beginning Friday.

To a question from Hindustan Times whether he was referring to the military exercise in Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as south Tibet, Luo said, “As far as we know, the so-called military exercise is not a fact, it is not true”.

“Second, the region you mentioned is a sensitive region and we don’t want to hear that reference,” Luo said, seemingly setting aside, even dousing, a controversy ahead of the visit.

Also watch | Big Picture: China’s dealings with US, India, and its Hong Kong challenge 

The exercise in question is the India Army’s “Him Vijay” drill, said to be taking place some 100 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) -- which divides India and China – in Arunachal Pradesh. News reports from India said it is the biggest exercise to test the combat capabilities of the new mountain strike corps.

Though Luo unexpectedly denied knowledge of the exercise, Chinese academics have told Hindustan Times that Beijing isn’t pleased with the drill as it is in an area they consider disputed.

On the summit, Luo said, “This will be an informal meeting. This will be a continuation of the Wuhan meeting. Since it is an informal meeting, the two leaders will have a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere to have a free exchange of views without fixed topics. They will talk about major issues, they will have free atmosphere with each other which is a very good format for discussion.”

“This is a new way of exchanges between Chinese and Indian leaders. This has proven to be very effective,” Luo, who was until recently the Chinese ambassador to India, added.

He added that over the past year, the bilateral relations have enjoyed new progress, which shows the importance of the Wuhan meeting.

“The border areas had maintained peace and tranquility and practice has proven that mutually beneficial cooperation is very important to the two sides,” the Chinese diplomat said.

Also read | Ahead of PM Modi-Prez Xi meet this week, a shift in China’s Kashmir stand

During their meetings on October 11 and 12, Luo said Xi and Modi will reach consensus on three areas. “Their shared vision for the reform of the international system; Their shared responsibility and role in regional affairs; They will provide guidance to the growth of bilateral ties and exchanges and cooperation…I am sure this meeting will prove very important to bilateral ties and promote regional growth, peace, stability and development,” he said.

On the possibility of agreements being signed by the two leaders, Luo indicated the meeting – like the Wuhan one – will be more about strengthening strategic communication.

“During the Wuhan summit, there was strong personal chemistry between the two leaders. Without the personal commitment from the two leaders, this kind of informal meeting is not possible,” he said.

“So for them to sit together to have an in-depth discussion in Chennai and to discuss global and regional affairs so that the dragon and the elephant can work together, so that we can have deeper strategic communication that will help bilateral relations and practical cooperation between the two countries and it will also have a far reaching positive implications to regional and global development and stability,” he said.

On the China-India plus mechanism, a takeaway from the Wuhan summit, Luo said, “Now Afghanistan is the point of breakthrough that we have chosen (in Wuhan) and the two sides have speedily implemented the consensus of the two sides of carrying out training for diplomats.”

Luo said India and China are now planning to cooperate in training law enforcement officers and cooperate in protection of archaeological sites in Afghanistan.

“…we are planning to hold training for law enforcement officers as well as archaeological protection, particular in these fields where the two sides are in a good position to cooperate with each other,” he said.

China is in favour of expanding the mechanism of India-China cooperating in a third country, Luo said.

“We hope that China-India plus cooperation is not only restricted to Afghanistan. We will further deepen our cooperation in Afghanistan. This time President Xi will visit Nepal. We hope that China-India plus cooperation will be expanded to Nepal. We also hope that the cooperation will be expanded to Bhutan,” Luo said.

Also read | Kashmir may not be a major topic at upcoming Modi-Xi meet, says China

First Published: Oct 09, 2019 14:49 IST

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