India and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that
would institutionalize military training and exercises to add
enough punch to the faltering strategic relationship. The MoU
will also be a vehicle through which defense experts,
officials, and personnel of both countries could meet on a
regular basis and engage in dialogue on defense issues.
Calling visiting Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee an “esteemed
guest” his counterpart Gen. Cao Gangchuan said that the visit
will “deepen our mutual understanding and mutual cooperation
between the armed forces of the two countries.” Mukherjee
placated his host with the excessive use of the word “great”
describing China, its achievements, and the Army.
Calling theories that say that the US is cultivating India with
the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal as a counter-weight to China
“outdated,” Mukherjee allayed fears of his interlocutors that
India was not involved in a “theater of competition.”
Emphasizing the need for strong neighborly relations, he wanted
stronger Army and Air Force ties. Currently, India and China
have had joint naval exercises and sending observers to each
others’ mock exercises. This MoU creates a longer term vehicle
for closer cooperation.
Mukherjee raised concerns of growing military buildup in
Pakistan and it is not clear why he did not raise it as a
concern with China.