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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

First wargames with China in India

October 24, 2008

Rajat Pandit, TNN
Times of India
October 22, 2008

NEW DELHI -- Despite the recent chill in bilateral relations with
Beijing after it tried to derail New Delhi's case for civil nuclear
commerce at the Nuclear Suppliers Group, India is all set to host
Chinese soldiers for the first time on its territory after the bitter 1962 war.

Defence ministry sources on Wednesday said the first-ever Sino-Indian
military combat exercise on Indian soil — with counter-terrorism as
its primary thrust area — is likely to be held at Belgaum towards December-end.

"A top Indian Army delegation is currently in Beijing for the initial
planning conference to decide the exact theme, setting and level of
participation for the exercise," said a source.

The wargames come at a time when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is
scheduled to reach Beijing from Tokyo on Thursday evening, to take
part in the Asia-Europe summit, which will also lead to bilateral
meetings with the Chinese leadership.

"Yes, there has been a downturn in our bilateral relations with
China, which, despite promises, held out till the very last in the
waiver for us at the NSG meeting in Vienna last month. But now,
attempts are being made to arrest the slide," said a senior official.

India, on its part, remains suspicious of the continuing
China-Pakistan nexus in the nuclear arena and the ongoing
modernization of the 2.5-million-strong People's Liberation Army,
with advanced trans-border military capabilities and a wide array of
long-range nuclear-tipped missiles.

Then, of course, there is China's military infrastructure build-up in
Tibet as well as its strategic manoeuvres in the Indian Ocean Region.
Moreover, coupled with the meandering border talks, is the PLA's
aggressive policy of intrusions into Indian territory along the
4,057-km Line of Actual Control in all three sectors — western
(Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand and Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim and Arunachal).

Nevertheless, the forthcoming joint exercise is being seen as a CBM
between the largest and third-largest militaries in the world. This
will be the second time the two armies will undertake combat drills
together after the first ''hand-in-hand'' exercise was held at
Kunming in China in December 2007.

Over the last couple of years, India and China have moved towards
institutionalizing defence and military exchanges, with an MoU on
defence cooperation and exchanges being signed in May 2006 and the
first annual defence dialogue kicking off in November 2007.

Similarly, the military protocol signed during Chinese Premier Wen
Jiabao's visit here in April 2005, goes far ahead of the earlier
November 1996 agreement on maintaining peace and tranquillity along
the Line of Actual Control. It lays down that the two armies will
"exercise self-restraint" and take "all necessary steps" to avoid any
escalation on the LAC.
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