Amid the ongoing tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, an Indian military delegation on Friday concluded a three-day visit to China to coordinate the dates and arrangements for the first joint military exercises in five years, scheduled to be held in China later this year.
The delegation of three officials, led by Brigadier Y.K. Joshi, held talks with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Friday in Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan and the headquarters of the Chengdu Military Area Command (MAC).
The Indian Embassy here did not comment on the outcome of the consultations.
The officials were here to discuss the joint exercises scheduled for August or September.
Defence ties better
While defence ties have been warming in the past year, the recent tensions along the LAC in eastern Ladakh — triggered after the PLA set up tented posts in a disputed area where the claim lines of both countries are overlapping — have cast a shadow on ties when both countries were scheduled to resume exercises after a five-year hiatus.
The Chengdu MAC is the main point of contact for exercises and engagement with India, as its jurisdiction extends over Tibet and the entire length of the disputed border with India, except for the Aksai Chin region which falls under the Lanzhou MAC.
The last round of joint exercises was held as long as five years ago in Belgaum. The first round was held in Kunming, in south-western Yunnan province, which is also under the Chengdu MAC, in 2007.
India suspended defence exchanges with China in 2010 after China refused to host the then head of the Northern Command citing “sensitivities” on Jammu and Kashmir.
Exchanges were resumed after China agreed to stop its controversial policy of issuing stapled visas to Indian citizens resident in Jammu and Kashmir. The PLA has subsequently hosted Indian military delegations comprising officials from J&K. Last year saw a marked improvement in ties, with a rare port call by four ships in Shanghai and coordination on joint anti-piracy escort missions in the Indian Ocean. The PLA had last year also hosted an Indian military delegation in Tibet — a region usually viewed with particular sensitivity by the Chinese — for the first time in many years.