Nepal and China to stage joint military exercise

kathmandu: China’s People’s Liberation Army said on Thursday that it is holding first ever joint military exercise with Nepal.

While Chinese military aid to Nepal has significantly boosted in recent years, this is the first time that Beijing has proposed such a joint military exercise with Nepal.

China and Nepal’s militaries have had many forms of exchanges in recent years, Spokesperson for China’s Defence Ministry Yang Yujun said at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday. “China and Nepal had been in ‘initial communication’ about a joint army exercise and details would be announced in due time.”

The Nepal Army has also confirmed the joint military drills with China, saying that the two sides had pencilled in to hold the exercise in the northern region of Nepal in the second week of February.

“Nepal and China have been exchanging military delegations, visits and courses but such kind of drill is taking place for the first time,”

said NA Spokesperson Brigadier Tara Bahadur Karki. “We have nothing much to add to the government’s announcement about the proposed exercise.”

The proposed drill named ‘Pratikar-I’, will be focused on counter terrorism and disaster management, according to the Defence Ministry.

While neither side has yet ascertained the number of troops for the drills, senior NA officials have indicated that it would be “in a small scale even smaller that a platoon level”.

But it has raised eyebrows in New Delhi, with the strategic circle in the Indian capital questioning about the intent of such an exercise.

A Defence Ministry official, however, plays down the proposed event saying that it does not carry importance in terms of strategic implications. Nepal has been doing such exercises on a regular basis with India, US and others troops contributing countries on the UN peacekeeping missions.

During recent high-level military exchanges and meetings between Nepal and China, including the visit of Defence Minister Bal Krishna Khand to Beijing, the Chinese side had communicated about its “interest to expand bilateral defence and security cooperation, strengthen strategic communication and exchanges at all levels between the militaries of the two countries to jointly safeguard regional peace and stability” besides to deepen cooperation in humanitarian aid and disaster relief actions.