India, China to resume joint military exercises


India and China announced Tuesday they would resume joint military exercises after a four-year gap, a move designed to build trust in the often prickly relationship between the world’s two most populous nations.
After Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony hosted talks with his Chinese counterpart Liang Guanglie, the pair told reporters they had debated some of the main sources of friction between the two sides and agreed a series of measures.
“We have decided that (to restart military exercises),” Antony told reporters after his meeting with Liang, the first Chinese defence minister to visit the Indian capital in eight years. “We covered a lot about the situation in the South Asia, Asia-Pacific region,” Antony said.
“We had a very frank and heart-to-heart discussion on all the issues… including in the border areas.”
The disputed border between India and China has been the subject of 14 rounds of fruitless talks since 1962, when the two nations fought a brief, bloody war over the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
China’s buildup of military infrastructure along the frontier has become a major source of concern for India, which increasingly sees Beijing as a longer-term threat to its security than traditional rival Pakistan. The two Asian giants have had an often fractious relationship over their shared border, and they halted joint military manoeuvres after 2008 due to a series of diplomatic spats including over visa issues.
But Liang confirmed that there was now a mutual desire to move forward.
“We have reached a consensus on high-level visits and exchange of personnel, maritime security… and cooperation between the two navies,” Liang said after Tuesday’s talks.
“I had candid and practical discussion with the defence minister,” he added.
Liang’s four-day visit also comes amid Indian fears about increased Chinese activity in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh which New Delhi sees as within its sphere of influence. The presence of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in India is another cause of tensions between the two nations.