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Rivals, not enemies?

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Rivalry between India and China is inevitable, given that they carry the majority of the world’s population, and are growing at the same time. Since the world’s resources are already divided badly in an order stacked against Asia, both countries have to try to buy their share out of the remaining resources, while also trying to encourage a more equitable global sharing. If this natural rivalry escalates into active enmity, then our countries’ growths can be affected very negatively. Signs that both governments realize this danger come from two recent news items.

IBN Live reported:

After a gap of six years, four Indian warships are on a visit to China, docking at Shanghai on a four-day port call, even as another set of warships are preparing to leave on a long deployment to cover the entire Indian Ocean region.

The four warships in Shanghai are guided missile destroyer INS Rana, stealth frigate INS Shivalik, missile corvette INS Karmukh and fleet tanker INS Shakti. They are under the command of the Visakhapatnam-based Eastern Fleet Flag Officer Commanding Rear Admiral P Ajit Kumar, according to navy officers here.

The ships are on overseas operational deployment on the eastern seaboard of India, covering Indian Ocean and northwest Pacific Ocean, visiting nations along the way, including Vietnam and Japan.

The warships covered South China Sea too that has witnessed naval flare-ups in the recent months over conflicting territorial claims of nations in the region.

Prior to reaching Shanghai, the four warships participated in the first ever bilateral maritime exercise between India and Japan. Jimex-12, as the Japan-India Maritime Exercise was called, coincided with the commemoration of 60 years of diplomatic relations between India and Japan.

China.org reported:

Four Indian navy ships dropped anchor at port along the Huangpu River in Shanghai on Wednesday to begin a five-day visit described by one of the Indian commanders as an effort to strengthen ties between India and China.

The four ships, the Guided Missile Stealth Frigate Shivalik, the Guided Missile Destroyer Rana, the Guided Missile Corvette Karmuk and the versatile Fleet Tanker Shakti are currently on deployment in South and East China Seas under the command of Rear Admiral P. Ajit Kumar who was warmly welcomed by Chinese officials at a welcoming ceremony Wednesday morning.

Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Eastern Naval Command told a press conference Wednesday that during the visit, the ships will be open to visitors and Chinese and Indian crews will visit each other’s ships. A number of meetings will also be held between the two sides.

The visit coincides with the “Year of India China Friendship and Cooperation,” which was announced by both Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in March. Vice Admiral Chopra commented that the timing of the visit added to its importance with regard to bilateral relations between the two countries.

After the visit, the Chinese and Indian navies will conduct joint exercises in communication verification and ship formation movement.

Neither side is saying too much, but it is a clear attempt to play down the confrontation in the South China Sea. On India’s part, perhaps it is also an attempt to demonstrate a cautious approach to the suggestions from the US of an Indo-US military axis.

The other report is from BS:

Armies of India and China today held a flag meeting in eastern Ladakh to discuss the situation along their boundary and agreed to maintain peace and tranquility there.

The meeting was held at the level of Brigadiers at Spanggur Gap in eastern Ladakh where the two sides discussed the situation along the boundary and agreed to maintain peace and tranquility, army officials said here.

They said the meeting between the delegations of the two armies was part of Confidence Building Measures (CBM) between the two sides. Such meetings between the two sides are held at regular intervals, they said.

Defence ties between the two countries have shown progress with New Delhi mulling joint exercises with Beijing next year after the just-concluded naval drills in Shanghai held after a gap of six years. India is planning military exercises with China which will also include army-to-army exercises.

The armies of the two countries last held counter- insurgency and counter-terrorism wargames called ‘Hand-in-Hand’ in 2009 in Belgaum in India and prior to that in China in 2007.

India and China had agreed to enhance defence exchanges and communication for better understanding and mutual trust during the fourth round of Annual Defence Dialogue (ADD) held here in December last year after choppy military ties for two years.

New Delhi had suspended military exchanges with China in August 2010 after it had refused to grant permission to a senior Indian Army Commander to proceed on an official trip to Beijing.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

June 30, 2012 at 6:55 am

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