India, China to discuss ramp up in military ties

September 2nd, 2012 - 3:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 2 (IANS) India and China are likely to ramp up military ties when they discuss from Monday possible resumption of joint army exercise from 2013, apart from continuing delegation exchanges, during Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie’s visit here.

This is the first time in eight years that a Chinese defence minister is visiting India, a sign of likely traction in bilateral military ties.

Gen. Liang will meet Indian officials Monday and Defence Minister A.K. Antony Tuesday when all aspects of their military ties, including border management, are scheduled for a review, a defence ministry official said.

The two countries fought a bitter war in 1962. China claims the whole of India’s Arunachal Pradesh, calling it lower Tibet. China is also holding on to Aksai Chin, the eastern part of Ladakh that it seized in 1962.

The two sides are likely to also discuss their border dispute that has festered for over six decades, primarily because the winding frontier has not been officially delineated.

The 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) runs from Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir to Uttarakhand, Sikkim and all the way to Arunachal Pradesh.

During his stay in India from Sunday to Thursday, Gen. Liang will be accompanied by a 23-member delegation.

The Chinese are also set to discuss more confidence building measures to ensure peace prevails along the LAC.

The last such talks between the defence ministers was held in May 2006. The last Chinese defence minister to visit India was Gen Cao Gangchuan who came in March 2004.

The talks on resuming the joint army exercises, called ‘Hand-In-Hand’, is likely to focus on modalities of counter terrorism training that is to be hosted by China this time.

The two nations began joint army training in 2007 when an Indian team flew to Kunming in southeastern China. The second exercise was held at Belgaum in Karnataka in 2008.

However, the exercise in 2009 could not be held for various reasons including China’s 60th anniversary celebrations.

In 2010, India suspended its defence exchanges with China after Beijing refused to issue a proper visa to then Northern Army Commander Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal, who headed the army operations in Jammu and Kashmir, almost challenging India’s sovereignty over the border state.

But after about 10 months of that controversy, India resumed military exchanges in 2011.

However, problems on the visa front continue for people from Arunachal Pradesh.

In December 2011, the fourth annual defence dialogue between the two nations was held in New Delhi when the two sides decided to improve their defence ties both qualitatively and quantitatively.

In January 2012, India and China agreed on a mechanism to discuss their border dispute.

When Antony meets Gen. Liang, they are likely to signal cordiality between the two nations and may work out a bilateral military interface and facilitate intervention from their respective foreign offices to prevent border flare-up.

India and China are signatories to a border protocol since 2005 that seeks to prevent any tension between weapon-holding soldiers on either side from degenerating.

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