India, China to hold joint army exercise in mid-December


New Delhi : India and China, which had fought a brief but bloody war in 1962, will hold their first joint army exercise on Indian soil in mid-December.

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“The India-China exercise will be conducted in the second week of December in Belgaum (Karnataka),” Defence Minister A.K. Antony told IANS.

Forging new military ties amid soaring trade and business links, an Indian Army team went to China in December last year for the first war games between the two countries near the city of Kunming. This will be the first time that Chinese Army troops will come to India to conduct military exercises.

“It will really be a delightful exercise in the 62 years of independence,” Antony said.

During his visit to the border post of Longewala in February this year, Antony stated that the next India-China joint army exercises would be held in India.

Military ties between Ithe two countries have seen a thaw in recent times with Chinese Navy chief Admiral Wu Sheng Li coming on his maiden visit to the country this week and Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Fali H. Major going to Beijing.

The IAF’s Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT), which has enthralled spectators worldwide with its intricate manoeuvres in the skies, also performed in China for the first time this week. Major went to Beijing with a proposal for joint air exercises with the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army’s air force.

Indian and Chinese warships have already been making calls at either country’s ports as part of growing confidence-building measures between the two sides.

The Indian Navy has long expressed apprehensions about the Chinese Navy’s incursions into the Indian Ocean region and hopes to “blunt” its thrust into this area through engagement.

The two navies, which have held elementary drills in the past, are now seeking to engage with each other for the first time next year.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between India and China in May 2006 during a visit by the then defence minister (and current External Affairs Minister) Pranab Mukherjee that stipulated that the two countries would hold joint military exercises, join forces in counter-terrorism and anti-piracy efforts and also cooperate in search and rescue operations.