(TibetanReview.net, Feb10’16) – Chinese and Indian border troops have conducted a joint disaster relief exercise in the Chushul-Moldo on Feb 6 in an indication of better relations between the two countries along their disputed Tibet border. “The exercises are designed to implement the Chinese-India border cooperation agreement, to jointly safeguard peace and stability in these areas,” thehindu.com Feb 8 quoted a statement from China’s Defence Ministry as saying.
The exercise took place along the eastern Ladakh border area and involved an Indian Army team of 30 soldiers led by Colonel Ritesh Chandra Singh and a Chinese team led by Colonel Qu Yi. “the exercise was based on the contingency of a disaster taking place on the border and the subsequent coordination of rescue mission by joint teams,” timesofindia.com Feb 8 quoted an Indian army officer as saying.
Code named Sino-India Cooperation 2016, Joint Tactical Exercise (JET) was the first of its kind between the two sides, noted dnaindia.com Feb 8. It added that the exercise was a part of ongoing initiatives being taken by India and China to ensure greater interaction between troops stationed along the LAC in a bid ensure peace and tranquillity on the border. “The increased interaction amongst Indian and Chinese border troops is a very positive step in enhancing confidence and building relations between the two armies,” it quoted Colonel SD Goswami, defence spokesman at Northern Command Headquarters, as saying.
The timesofindia.com report said the exercise came after a senior Indian Army delegation, led by Northern Command chief Lt General D S Hooda, visited China in December.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had agreed at a meeting in May 2015 to start annual visits between their militaries, expand exchanges between border commanders and start using a military hotline, noted the thehindu.com report.
China lays claim to more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) ruled by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. India says China occupies 38,000 sq km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.
The situation along the border between India and Chinese occupied Tibet in the Ladakh area, as elsewhere, has not been an easy one and there have been reports of numerous incursions by Chinese troops. In Sep 2015, the two armies got locked in a bitter standoff after Indian troops dismantled a watch tower constructed by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at Burtse in Depsang Plains of Ladakh on the LAC.
And in Apr 2013, Indian and PLA troops were engaged in a major face off when the latter had crossed 19 kilometres deep inside the Indian Territory at Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector on LAC and set up tented posts. The 20 day standoff ended on May 5, 2013 when troops from both sides withdrew to their pre-incursion positions on the LAC.