India, China conclude first ever joint military exercise

26 Dec 2007


Beijing: China and India brought their first-ever joint military exercise to a successful conclusion on Tuesday with a drill in which they "wiped out" a group of 'terrorists' along their border, state press Xinhua reported. According to a Xinhua report, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China has declared the Sino-Indian military exercise as a success.

According to the report, PLA's deputy chief of general staff, Lieutenant General Ma Xiaotian, said that troops from the two countries treated each other with sincerity while displaying their respective skills and capabilities to take on terrorists. It was a learning experience for soldiers on both sides, Xinhua quoted him as saying in Kunming.

The report said that the PLA has also indicated that it was keen to use the five-day exercise at Kunming in southwest China's Yunnan province bordering India, code named "Hand-in-Hand 2007," as the basis for further cooperation with India's armed forces

According to the report, 56 members of an unnamed international terrorist organisation had taken hostages after establishing a training base along the two nations' border. "The finale manoeuvre involved establishing a joint command post... before wiping out a group of 'terrorists' and rescuing 'hostages'," Xinhua said.

The three-hour drill was the culmination of five days of exercises between about 100 troops from each country in southwest China's Yunnan province, which borders India.

Initially, reports had suggested that the exercises were meant to last for nine days. The Xinhua report failed to provide any reason for a different timeframe.

Meanwhile, observers are taking note of the fact that an officer as high Lieut Gen Ma headed the Chinese military observer delegation during the anti-terrorism exercise. They say that this indicates the high level of importance given to the joint exercise by the government.

They also took note of the fact that the People's Daily, the organ of the ruling Communist Party of China, is yet to come up with an editorial or opinion piece on the exercises so far.

The joint drill will play an active role in enhancing mutual understanding and trust and deepening exchanges and cooperation in the defence field between the two sides, Lieut Gen Ma said. It also helped improve the anti-terror combat abilities of both armies, he said.

Lieut Gen Ma also said that China will continue its efforts for more military exchanges and cooperation with India in order to safeguard regional security and stability. The efforts will be carried on in the spirit of mutual respect, equal consultation and mutual benefits with the goal of achieving long-lasting peace.

India and China have conducted other bilateral military exchanges in recent years that include visits by senior officials, meetings on defence and safety issues, and searching and rescue manoeuvre on the sea. These efforts reflected the common desire of both sides for deepening cooperation, he said. 

The military exercises follow a recent thaw in bilateral relations between these two countries who have fought a border war in 1962, which marked the culmination of China's occupation of Tibet.

For the record, India says that China occupies 38,000 square kilometres (14,670 square miles) of its territory, while Beijing claims about 90,000 square kilometres.

According to previous announcements, follow-up joint military exercises will be held in India.

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