Beijing: Indian and Chinese armies on Monday kicked off a 10-day joint anti-terrorism exercise in China's Yunnan province which officials said will help enhance mutual understanding, communication and cooperation.
India for the first time fielded a contingent of 175 troops from 2nd Battalion of Naga Regiment from Eastern Command which looks after the border with China.
China, meanwhile, deployed troops from 14 Corps of China's Chengdu Military Region whose focus is on Indian borders.
Both sides are fielding the same number of troops for the exercise at Kunming city which will culminate on October 22, Indian Embassy said in a statement today.
Troops of both sides will undergo intensive joint training which includes displays, demonstrations and a comprehensive joint exercise. The purpose of the exercise is to develop joint operating capability, share useful experience in counter-terrorism operations and to promote friendly exchanges between the armies of India and China, the statement said.
Exchange of high level visits between India and China, especially the visit of President Xi Jinping to India last year and that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China this year have pushed forward bilateral relations, Deputy Commander of Chengdu Military Region Lieutenant General Zhou Xiaoxhou said at the inaugural ceremony while addressing the participating troops.
"The joint military exercise will help enhance mutual understanding and communication and cooperation between the armed forces of India and China," Zhou said.
The Hand-in-Hand joint exercises this year are significant as they are truly "joint" in planning, command structure and in action, Indian Ambassador to China Ashok K Kantha said.
"Under conditions when terrorism has emerged as a major threat to humanity, the counter terror cooperation between the two militaries has added significance," he said.
The two armed forces should develop the habit of working together and the joint exercises are an important endeavour in that direction, Kantha said.
"India and China have agreed that peace and tranquility in the border areas is an important prerequisite for continued growth of bilateral relations."
"In this regard, the two countries have put in place several CBMs (Confidence Building Measures) and the joint military exercises are an important component of the CBMs," Kantha said and recalled the understanding between the leaders of the two countries and called for further strengthening the defence exchanges.
In his remarks, Lieutenant General Surinder Singh, Corps Commander, Eastern Command called for strengthening defence exchanges between India and China.
This is the fifth round of exercise between both the armies. The first drill was held in southwest China's Yunnan Province in 2007, followed by drills in Belgaum in Karnataka in 2008. The third round was held in southwest China's Sichuan in 2013, followed by fourth in Pune in 2014.