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    Sino-Indian 'Hand-in-Hand' Military Exercises to Restore Mutual Trust - Scholars

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    “Hand-in-Hand” joint military exercises are a symbolic result of 2018 that was successful for Sino-Indian relations, the Indian press noted, referencing the Chinese-Indian anti-terrorism exercises that began on Tuesday, 11 December, in Chengdu, in southwestern China.

    These first joint military exercises since the confrontation on the Sino-Indian border in the summer of last year in the Himalayas will help strengthen mutual confidence, some experts noted in an interview with Sputnik.

    These drills are another example of a return to normal military ties after 2017 when these ties broke off abruptly, the Indian newspaper The Diplomat wrote. During an April meeting in Wuhan, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed that the two leaders were working to restore bilateral relations after the confrontation in 2017, the publication noted.

    Since the beginning of the year, the leaders of the two countries have met four times. Anti-terrorism exercises are the realisation of the consensus they have reached. The border between India and China is the ninth longest in the world. It has often been a zone of conflict in the past. One of the last serious incidents occurred last summer in Doklam. Now the two countries are negotiating the creation of a "hotline" to prevent similar crises in the future, Indian media reported.

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    On 24 November, the 21st meeting of special representatives of China and India was held in Sichuan Province (southwestern China). Member of the PRC State Council, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of India, Ajit Doval, have called for intensified efforts to find a solution to the border problem.

    Earlier, at the 9th Indian Defence Forum, Defence Secretary of India Sanjay Mitra and Lieutenant General Shao Yuanming, Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff Department of China's Central Military Commission (CMC), discussed bilateral relations, military ties, border control, and regional and international issues.

    Natalia Zamaraeva, the Senior Researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, called these exercises a "landmark event" in the development of Sino-Indian relations in 2018:

    "Counterterrorism is a common programme adopted by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). And the current military manoeuvres should be considered in the context of this programme as well. Another keynote of the exercises is the settlement of relations in the region as a whole. China mediates a decrease in tensions, for example, between India and Pakistan, between Pakistan and the United States. Moreover, these anti-terrorism exercises are being held on the eve of a new round of contacts between China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan regarding the settlement of the internal Afghan conflict, which is accompanied by numerous terrorist incursions. Therefore, the military exercises by China and India may be considered as one step towards reducing tensions in the region".

    The "Hand-in-Hand" joint military exercise has been held since 2013. This year they will last two weeks. The exercises include live-fire training as well as testing each other's compatibility of actions and command functions, said Zhang Jiadong, Professor and Director of the Centre for South Asian Studies at Shanghai Fudan University.

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    "China and India conducted previous joint anti-terrorist exercises in 2016. However, last year they were cancelled because of the border conflict. This year they are to be held for the seventh time, thus indicating the restoration of military ties in general. At the same time, anti-terrorism exercises are a lower level military cooperation project, since they mainly use land military units with police functions. Each of the parties sent about 100 people because these are just drills at the company level.

    Although relations between the Chinese and Indian military have begun to recover, the level of cooperation between them is actually rather low. Nevertheless, in any case, relations between the military are developing in a positive direction. After the April meeting in Wuhan this year between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the two countries resumed contacts in many areas, and not only ground-based anti-terrorism exercises. In particular, the parties returned to cooperating in the field of water management on cross-border rivers. This is a sign of the revival of Sino-Indian relations".

    Another important event will take place before the end of the year that will help build confidence between China and India. This will be the launch of a high-level forum for exchange. A new bilateral platform is expected to be created during Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to India.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speakers do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    joint military exercises, military exercises, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping, India, China
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