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Indo-China Army drills to ease tensions, analysts say

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BEIJING (PTI): Joint defence exercises being planned by the Indian and Chinese militaries later this year would send a positive signal to ease recent border tensions and build trust between them following recurring troop incursions, according to analysts.

The "Hand-in-Hand" drills, though not on a large scale, send a positive signal because they help ease border tensions between the two neighbours along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), while strengthening mutual trust, state-run China Daily on Tuesday quoted strategic analysts from the official think tanks here as saying.

Both sides are scheduled to conduct the exercises from November 4 to 14 in the Chengdu Military Command area in China.

The exercises will involve about 150 troops from both sides, mostly focussing on anti-terrorism drills.

This is the third time the drills would be held between two of the world's largest militaries.

Sun Shihai, an Indian studies scholar 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.

About the reports of recurring incursions by Chinese troops along LAC he said, "It is very common to have disputes between neighbours, 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.

Ding Hao, a researcher at the Academy of Military Sciences in Beijing, said the upcoming exercises are 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 sides 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, he said.

About India commissioning its first nuclear submarine, the INS Arihant, and the indigenously-built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, Ma Gang, a military history professor at PLA National Defence University, said that Sino-Indian relations should be centred on cooperation instead of an arms race.

"Developing a stable and positive military relationship is based on joint efforts from both sides," he said.


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