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Karthik Shetty asked: After the recent tension between India & Pakistan, would China be conducting joint military exercise with India? How serious is China about these exercises?

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  • Mandip Singh replies: The India-China military exercises are a part of confidence building measures (CBMs) that contribute towards a peaceful, just and fair settlement of the India-China border dispute based on historical evidence and international law. These CBMs were signed in 1993 and 2006 and continue to be revisited to further improve the understanding and engagement between the two militaries. The first naval exercises between the two countries were held in 2003, off the coast of Kochi, and in 2005, in East China Sea. The first army exercise code named 'Hand in Hand' was held in Kunming in China in 2007, and the next year in Belgaum in India.

    Military relations were disrupted after China denied visa to India's Northern Army Commander, Lt General B.S. Jaswal. It was only during the visit of China's Minister of Defence, Liang Guanglie, to India in September 2012 that there was a thaw in the relations. At the 5th Annual Defence Dialogue held at Beijing on 14-15 January 2013, it was agreed to resume the exercises between the two militaries of all three services - Army, Navy and Air Force. At no time has Pakistan been an influence in this relationship. The engagements between the two militaries have nothing to do with India’s relations with Pakistan, nor are these exercises relevant to China-Pakistan relations.

    The fact that China and India have moved ahead with resumption of these military exercises, unconditionally, and with no caveat is an indicator of the mutual understanding between the two countries to carry forward the engagement and dialogue to the next level. There is no reason to believe and no indications to suggest that China may not be ‘serious’ to go ahead with these exercises. It may be prudent to recount that, besides political dividends, such exercises develop understanding, foster goodwill and assist in establishing standard operating procedures between two militaries when operating jointly in humanitarian and disaster relief missions.