Anti-ter­ror drill

China and In­dia will hold joint ex­er­cise against ter­ror­ists, the first in five years.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By PU ZHENDONG puzhen­dong@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Bei­jing and New Delhi are ex­pected to re­sume their joint coun­tert­er­ror­ism ex­er­cises in Novem­ber af­ter five years, de­spite the fre­quent oc­cur­rence of stand­offs along bor­der ar­eas.

Seen as a ma­jor con­fi­dence­build­ing mea­sure be­tween the world’s two largest mil­i­taries, the third Hand-in-Hand ex­er­cise will be held in the Chengdu Mil­i­tary Com­mand area from Nov 4 to 14, the Chi­nese De­fense Min­istry con­firmed on Mon­day.

Ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports, the agree­ment was reached dur­ing a visit of In­dian De­fense Min­is­ter A.K. Antony in July. Each side will dis­patch task forces of 100 to 150 mem­bers to par­tic­i­pate in coun­terin­sur­gency and coun­tert­er­ror­ism cam­paigns.

“It will be a com­pany-level coun­tert­er­ror­ism ex­er­cise, with the Sikh Light In­fantry par­tic­i­pat­ing from our side,” an In­dian of­fi­cial was quoted by lo­cal me­dia as say­ing.

Two pre­vi­ous joint ex­er­cises of this kind have been held: “Hand in Hand 2007”, in Kun­ming, Yun­nan prov­ince; and “Hand in Hand 2008”, in Bel­gaum, Kar­nataka, In­dia.

Apart from re­sum­ing army ex­er­cises, the two coun­tries have also agreed to launch joint air and naval drills.

Ex­perts said the “Hand-in­Hand” drills, though not on a large scale, send a pos­i­tive sig­nal be­cause they help ease bor­der ten­sions be­tween the two neigh­bors along the so­called Line of Ac­tual Con­trol, while strength­en­ing mu­tual trust.

Sun Shihai, an In­dian stud­ies ex­pert at the Chi­nese Acad­emy of So­cial Sciences, said the re­sump­tion of the joint mil­i­tary drills by Bei­jing and New Delhi af­ter five years in­di­cates an im­prove­ment in un­der­stand­ing and mu­tual trust.

Ding Hao, a re­searcher at the Acad­emy of Mil­i­tary Sciences in Bei­jing, said the up­com­ing ex­er­cise is a good op­por­tu­nity for the two mil­i­taries to fur­ther dis­pel sus­pi­cions.

“Joint ex­er­cises are the most im­por­tant among all lev­els and forms of mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion. The re­sump­tion sig­ni­fies an in­cred­i­bly fast re­cov­ery of mil­i­tary ties be­tween Bei­jing and New Delhi,” Ding said.

“The two have both shown strong in­ten­tions to boost mu­tual trust by re­open­ing dia­logue and en­gag­ing in high- level ex­changes af­ter fric­tions,” Ding added.

The two gov­ern­ments launched a mech­a­nism for con­sul­ta­tion on bor­der is­sues last year. But ties are still oc­ca­sion­ally strained by ter­ri­to­rial is­sues.

In mid- April, In­dian me­dia claimed that Chi­nese de­fense troops had “tres­passed on In­dian ter­ri­tory” in the western sec­tor of the dis­puted bor­der area. Bei­jing de­nied the charge, say­ing that Chi­nese bor­der de­fense troops, com­mit­ted to safe­guard­ing peace and tran­quil­ity in the bor­der area, did not cross the line. The dead­lock lasted for three weeks as both sides en­gaged in bor­der talks.

China and In­dia have launched 16 rounds of bor­der talks so far.

“It is very com­mon to have dis­putes be­tween neigh­bors, and it takes ef­fort and time to es­tab­lish mu­tual trust, but bi­lat­eral agree­ments and co­or­di­na­tion mech­a­nisms are the ba­sis of re­solv­ing all the ex­ist­ing prob­lems,” Sun said.

In mid- Au­gust, In­dia launched its first nu­clear sub­ma­rine, the Ari­hant, and the air­craft car­rier Vikrant, demon­strat­ing its am­bi­tion to boost its mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Ma Gang, a mil­i­tary his­tory pro­fes­sor at PLA National De­fense Univer­sity, said that Sino-In­dian re­la­tions should be cen­tered on co­op­er­a­tion in­stead of an arms race.

“De­vel­op­ing a sta­ble and pos­i­tive mil­i­tary re­la­tion­ship is based on joint ef­forts from both sides,” he said. Zhang Fan con­trib­uted to the story.

LI GANG / XIN­HUA

Soldiers from China and In­dia take part in the “Hand in Hand” joint mil­i­tary drill in 2007, in Kun­ming, Yun­nan prov­ince. The drill was the first joint anti- ter­ror­ism ex­er­cise for the two armies since 1962, when the two Asian neigh­bors had a brief bor­der con­flict. The two coun­tries held an­other “Hand in Hand” drill a year later.

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