China on Friday described as “normal exchange” the first-ever Sino-Indian joint military exercise in eastern Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir and said the drill was not targeted against any “third country” nor it had “anything to do” with its stance on Kashmir issue. “I would like to point out that this activity is simply a normal exchange between the frontier troops of China and India to properly deal with border affairs,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters.
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“It does not target any third country nor have anything to do with China’s position on the Kashmir issue,” she said in a written response to a question on Beijing’s view on the exercises. The joint army exercise was held in eastern Ladakh on October 19 amid tensions between India and Pakistan after the Uri terror attack and the surgical strikes by the Indian Army in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
It was also held amid hectic diplomatic manoeuvring between India and China over Beijing blocking India’s bid for NSG membership and impose a UN ban on Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar. China and Pakistan view their relations as “all weather”. Beijing has always maintained that the Kashmir issue should be resolved between India and Pakistan through consultations.
Hua said border troops of China and India have maintained close exchanges and cooperation for a long time in order to maintain peace and tranquility of the border area. “On October 19, border troops of the two countries jointly held a small routine tactical exercise in the Chushul region of the western section of the China-India border close to the Line of Actual Control,” she said.
“The two sides also held a similar exercise in this region in February. This exercise focuses on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief under a scenario of earthquakes in the border area, with a purpose to enhance exchanges and cooperation between the two troops and better safeguard peace and tranquility of the border area,” she said.
The October 19 exercise was the first military cooperation of New Delhi and Beijing in Jammu and Kashmir. The two nations have conducted exercises at other locations in the country.