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Sino-Indian joint drill abandoned
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10:45, September 24, 2009

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China and India have abandoned plans for a joint army drill this year, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday.

"We have not held any meetings to plan out the drill," the daily quoted a senior Indian army officer who would normally be involved in the liaison as saying. "It is unlikely that there will be an episode of the exercise this year when our soldiers would have been expected to visit China, since they were here last year."

"There is no need to hype" the news, China's Defense Ministry told the Global Times.

The Daily Telegraph placed the abandoning of the drill against the backdrop of "a flurry of reports – some confirmed officially – of repeated transgressions along the India- China border."

"The joint training operation is not an institutionalized annual mechanism," Ma Jiali, an expert on South Asia studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

"The joint army drill, which highlights the stable bilateral military ties between the two countries, is usually arranged according to the changing situation," Ma said, adding that there is no set schedule for the drill.

Saying he was not informed about the canceled drill, Ma said the delay or cancellation is reasonable since the National Day military parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of New China is energy-consuming.

"Exercise Hand-in-Hand," a joint training operation, began in December 2007, when 103 soldiers of the Indian Army's 15 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry brigades landed in Kunming, in China's Yunnan Province, for an eight-day drill. It was followed-up in December, when a contingent of 130 soldiers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army was received at the commando school in Belgaum, Karnataka, for drills with the 8 Maratha Light Infantry.

When the first drill was held in December 2007, the world's militaries took note of the symbolism of two armies, that went to war in 1962, practicing together. Soldiers of the companies involved struck a short-lived but warm friendship when they drank, danced, sang and, of course, attacked a mock enemy in a war game that ended with much fire and smoke in the Yangmei mountains close to Kunming.

A senior Indian defense ministry official said one of the reasons for not holding the joint army drill this year was the austerity drive of the center.

"It costs a lot of money to requisition an Indian Air Force aircraft and fly the soldiers to Kunming with all their equipment and sustain them," he said, adding that the navy drills suggested that military-to-military relations would continue.

Indian warships made port calls in Qingdao and a Chinese PLA Navy warship visited Kochi in August.

The strength of the Indian Air Force is "inadequate," Air Chief Marshal P V Naik said yesterday in the context of reported Chinese incursions into India. "Our present aircraft strength is inadequate. (The) aircraft strength is one third that of China's."

"We are not downplaying anything. As far as the Air Force is concerned, there has been no reason to downplay anything. There have not been any incursions reported at the Line of Actual Control," he added.

Agencies contributed to this story

Source:Global Times



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