Indian Army Chief N. C. Vij has invited China to participate in joint anti-terrorism exercises in a further sign of growing military links between the two countries, China’s state press said Dec. 29.
“We invite China to join our military exercise in non-traditional security,” Vij was quoted by the Xinhua news agency as telling Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan in talks Dec. 28. “We should expand the ongoing frequent personnel exchanges to officers at all levels, including junior ones.”
‘Non-traditional security issues’ is a term frequently used by Chinese officials to denote terrorism.
The two militaries, which clashed in a brief but bloody border war in 1962, held their first-ever joint search and rescue exercises off the coast of China last year as part of efforts to cement military ties.
Vij’s ongoing visit, which began Dec. 22, is the highest level Indian military visit to China since 1994.
“China would like to step up its cooperation with India in the defense and security sector and advance bilateral military ties to a higher level,” Cao was quoted as saying.
Sino-Indian military ties play an important part in overall bilateral relations, said Cao, who also serves as vice head of the powerful Central Military Commission.
In recent years, China and India have sought to improve ties and have worked to resolve a longstanding border dispute in the controversial Kashmir region where China also has territorial claims along with India and Pakistan.
India’s 1998 nuclear tests have been seen as prompting Beijing to improve relations with its huge neighbor despite China’s traditionally friendly ties with its other nuclear-armed South Asian neighbor, Pakistan.