India and China, the two nuclear armed Asian neighbours, agreed on Monday to take necessary steps for maintaining peace along their 4,057km-long border.
Indian Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, who arrived in Beijing on Monday for a four-day visit, informed the media about the decision after holding talks with his Chinese counterpart General Li Zuocheng. Speaking at a joint press conference in the Chinese capital, General Singh said that he expressed serious concern over frequent transgressions by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) during his meeting with General Li. The head of Chinese Army informed his guest from India that PLA was undergoing major restructuring and the problem would be solved soon.
General Li, who welcomed General Singh with a Guard of Honour at the Bayi Building ahead of their meeting, said that the PLA was eager to expand defence exchanges with the Indian Army in the coming days. According to him, it is important for the two neighbouring countries to bolster defence ties in order to ensure regional peace.
Meanwhile, the Indian Embassy in Beijing issued a statement, saying that General Singh’s meetings with General Li and General Xu Qiliang, the Chief of the Chinese Air Force and Vice Chairman of Central Military Commission, were highly productive, as they “reiterated their desire to keep up the momentum of defence exchanges and the need to keep the borders tranquil and peaceful”. The embassy further said that General Xu not only accepted General Singh’s invitation to visit India, but also expressed hope that he would make it soon.
During his stay in China, the Indian Army chief will visit key military installations in Xian and Nanjing and hold a separate meeting with Commander of China’s Eastern Theatre Command General Liu Yuejun. They will discuss various important issues, including efficacy of mechanism put in place to deal with transgressions of troops aggressively patrolling the areas (Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh) claimed by both the countries.
The Indian Army chief’s visit comes at a time when relations between Beijing and New Delhi have been stressed by various issues, such as the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and China blocking India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Interestingly, senior officials of both the countries have claimed that they, despite contentious issues, managed to keep up the dialogue at the highest level. They are confident that India and China will ensure peace and tranquillity along the border by properly addressing ground level issues.