Defence Ministers of India and China discuss bilateral defence ties, border security
New Delhi, Sep 4 (ANI): Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie met his Indian counterpart A. K. Antony here on Tuesday to discuss measures to help avoid flare-ups along the border between the nuclear-armed Asian giants at a time when Beijing is grappling with a change of leadership and friction in the South China Sea.
The Chinese Defence Minister, on his part, said both sides have reached a very important consensus to promote their friendly, strategic and cooperative partnership further, besides promoting friendly exchanges and cooperation between the two armed forces.
"We have also reached on an agreement or consensus on the exchange and cooperation between the two militaries in various fields, including the exchange of high level visits, the exchange of young officers and also the exchange of personnel training, inter-collegiate exchanges in non-traditional security fields including cooperation between the two navies and maritime security cooperation," he added.
Antony described his discussions with his Chinese counterpart as very fruitful.
"We had a detailed discussion on improving the relation between our two countries, improving the relations at the border areas and also we covered a lot on the situation in south Asia, Asia-Pacific region. But on the whole, today's visit by the Chinese defence minister was very fruitful; we had a very frank and heart-to-heart discussion on all the issues," he added.
A rare visit to India by a Chinese defence minister, the first after eight years, also highlights growing competition between the two emerging powers as they jostle for influence and resources across Asia.
General Liang, who is presently on a four-day visit to India, may announce a new round of joint military exercises-following on from a recent joint naval practice in Shanghai.
As neighbours and emerging superpowers, India and China have a complex relationship. Trade has grown at a dizzying rate but Beijing is wary of India's close ties to Washington and memories of a border war with China half a century ago are still fresh in New Delhi.
Despite 15 rounds of high-level talks to resolve the dispute about where their Himalayan border lies, neither side is close to giving up any territory.
Both China and India say they are committed to attaining prosperity through peaceful means. Business relations are booming and trade flows have reached an annual $75.5 billion, up from just $3 billion a decade ago. Trade is skewed in China's favour.
General Liang's delegation includes Yang Jinshan, commander of the Tibet military district on the vast and troubled Himalayan plateau bordering India.
China and India fought a brief border war in 1962, two years after India gave asylum to the Dalai Lama, who Beijing considers a separatist.
The last time a Chinese defence minister visited India was in 2004. Since then, Beijing has spent billions of dollars on train lines, roads and military hardware in Tibet. India has also spent heavily to strengthen its defences along the frontier, which the two sides dispute, despite years of talks.
Minor incidents of both nations' troops crossing the border are common, but major flare-ups are avoided through meetings of low and mid-rank officers, as well as senior military delegations and a cabinet-level hotline.
Instability has increased in Tibet in the lead up to the Chinese leadership change, with 51 Tibetans setting fire to themselves in gruesome protests against Beijing's heavy-handed rule in the region.
General Liang's visit follows a number of high intensity unilateral military exercises by both countries in the border region in the past year. (ANI)
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