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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.