India, China discuss irksome issues in fledgling defence cooperationNew Delhi, March 22
Tribune News Service
In a move that would be keenly watched among strategic circles, India and China today moved ahead to work on their fledgling defence cooperation, discussing issues in the Asia-Pacific region, resumption of joint-military exercises, an expansion of military-to-military exchanges and consolidation of measures to maintain peace along the frontiers.
The two-sides conducted defence delegation-level talks, the third high-level meet on military matters in the past 10 months, when US Defence Secretary Leon Pannetta visited India and China to announce the rebalance of the US forces towards Asia-Pacific region.
Both, India and China, had then separately, showed displeasure at the eastward swing of the US forces. Indian Defence minister AK Antony had then advised his US counterpart, Leon Pannetta "to move at a pace (in implementing the new military strategy) which is comfortable to all countries concerned".
Today China and India discussed "issues relating to the regional security situation", an Indian official statement said tonight. Sources said the Asia-Pacific region, that includes the South China Sea, was discussed at the meeting. In the past few months, New Delhi and Beijing have exchanged sharp words over navigation rights in that sea. India has oil exploration interests and wants free navigation under the UN-signed sea-navigation conventions while China claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea and often warns India over oil explorations. The matters of navigation did come up, however, the US and its east-ward swing into Asia was not discussed at this talks, sources said.
Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Lt Gen Qi Jianguo, led an eight-member delegation for talks with Indian Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma at the South Block today. The two sides discussed issues for 90-minutes.
India and China, who had severed their bilateral defence relations in 2009 over non-issuance of visa to serving a Lt General of the Indian Army, slowly resumed defence ties December 2011 onwards. First in September 2012, Chinese Defence Liang Guanglie made a visit to India, the first in more than eight year, to discuss issues with AK Antony. The two sides laid down the framework. In January 2013, Lt Gen Jianguo and Shashi Kant Sharma had met in Beijing for the Annual Defence Dialogue.
An official Indian statement said: "Both sides agreed to finalise the plan of bilateral exchanges between the Armed Forces of India and China".
It has been decided that exchanges will be conducted between the Armies, Navies and Air Forces on both sides. Both sides also discussed preparations for the 3rd Joint Army exercise, which is scheduled to be conducted in China this year.
It was agreed that the strengthening of exchanges between the armed forces should be carried out to build mutual trust and confidence, said the Defence Ministry.
The too sides also discussed the implementation of measures agreed upon to ensure continued peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Today's decisions come just days ahead of the scheduled BRICS summit at Durban, South Africa, on March 26-27. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is slated to meet the new Chinese Premier Xi Jingping.
On the table
Defence Ministry fears power duel in Asia-Pacific regionNew Delhi, March 22
Tribune News Service
With India, US, Japan and China involved in an edgy power-duel for dominance in the Asia-Pacific region, the Indian Defence Ministry has expressed fears saying “new military postures and power rivalries can impact the military balance in the region.”
In its annual report for 2012-2013, the Ministry of Defence today said: “India has important political, economic and commercial interests in the region and has stake in ensuring continued peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region”.
Asia-Pacific is the region lying east of India extending in an arc till Japan to the north and Australia to the south.
The region acquired a new strategic hue following a series of developments over the past nine months. In June 2012, the US announced that it was rebalancing its naval assets, sea-borne aircraft carriers, towards the Asia Pacific. China protested saying this was a US policy of containment.
Indian Naval Chief Admiral DK Joshi in December last year asserted: “The Navy is ready to sail into the disputed waters (of South China Sea) if the country’s economic interests are affected”. New Delhi has oil blocks off the coast of Vietnam. Within days, China warned India against any unilateral attempt to pursue oil exploration in the disputed sea. Separately, China and Japan are locked in territorial dispute over a set of islands.
The Indian Defence Ministry, while commenting on these rapid developments, said: “The complex and dynamic interplay of economic, diplomatic and military factors in the Asia-Pacific region continues to impact the overall security assessment for the region”.
Underlining these developments as important and stressing upon the need for continued efforts to build trust, the report goes on to state New Delhi’s well articulated stance on China’s attempts to claim total sovereignty over the South China Sea. It talks about the need “to ensure that the critical sea lanes in the region are kept open, secure and free for navigation and trade in accordance with international laws”. India’s to-and-fro trade in the east passes through these waters.
The report goes on to talk about China and how New Delhi was conscious of its neighbour saying “India remains watchful of the implications of China’s military profile in the immediate and extended neighbourhood”. It assures that necessary steps are in place to tackle China saying “India is taking necessary measures to develop the requisite capabilities to counter any impact (from China) on its security”.
On Pakistan, the report talks about the activities of terrorist organisations functioning on its territory.
z Asia-Pacific is the region lying east of India extending in an arc till Japan to the north and Australia to
z The region acquired a new strategic hue following a series of developments over the past nine months.
Monday, March 25, 2013
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