China on Wednesday said it was opposed to the joint Indo-U.S. military exercises being held near the Line of Actual Control (LAC), asserting that it violates the spirit of the two border agreements signed between New Delhi and Beijing.
The 18th edition of the India-U.S. joint military exercise ‘Yudh Abhyas’ is currently underway in Uttarakhand, about 100 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
It aims to enhance interoperability and share expertise between both armies in peacekeeping and disaster relief operations.
The nearly two-week exercise began earlier this month.
“The joint military exercise between India and the U.S. close to the LAC at the China-India border violates the spirit of the agreement between China and India in 1993 and 1996,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing in Beijing.
“It does not serve the mutual trust between China and India”, he said in response to a question posed by a correspondent from Pakistan.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s reference to the 1993 and 1996 agreements is interesting as India termed the People’s Liberation Army's (PLA) attempts to move a large number of troops to the disputed areas in the LAC in eastern Ladakh in May 2020 violated the bilateral agreements which state that the boundary question is resolved through peaceful and friendly consultations.
The military exercise is conducted annually between India and the U.S. with the aim of exchanging best practices, tactics, techniques and procedures between the armies of the two nations.
“The 18th Edition of India-US Joint Exercise #YudhAbhyas commenced today at Foreign Training Node, Auli. The aim of Joint Exercise is to enhance interoperability & share expertise between both the Armies in Peace Keeping & Disaster Relief Operations. #IndianArmy #IndiaUSFriendship,” the Indian Army tweeted on November 19.
The previous edition of the exercise was conducted at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska, the U.S. in October 2021, officials said.
The Ministry of Defence in Beijing on November 15 had said that U.S. Army soldiers of 2nd Brigade of the 11th Airborne Division and Indian Army soldiers from the Assam Regiment will be participating in the exercise.
The joint exercise will also focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations.
Troops from both nations will practice launching swift and coordinated relief efforts in the wake of any natural calamity, the ministry said.
The exercise between the armies of India and the U.S. will facilitate both armies to share their wide experiences, skills and enhance their techniques through information exchange.
In August, the Chinese military expressed similar concern over the India-U.S. military exercises.
Since the June 2020 Galwan Valley clash between Chinese and Indian armies, bilateral ties between the two countries have taken a severe hit.
India has consistently maintained that peace and tranquility along the LAC are important to the overall development of bilateral relations with China.