China’s Defence Ministry declared its intent to build stronger military ties with India, a day before the informal summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“It is the common wish of both peoples to stabilise the relations between the Chinese and Indian armed forces and maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas,” Chinese Defence Ministry spokesperson Senior Colonel Wu Qian said during a briefing on Thursday.

The comments came on the heels of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to China.

Ties between the People’s Liberation Army and the Indian army had been strained last year on account of the Doklam military standoff.

“Although the relations between the two militaries still face some difficulties and obstacles, we are willing to use the important consensus of the leaders of the two countries as guidelines to deepen our understanding, increase mutual trust, make proper differences, and continuously accumulate the positive energy of the healthy and stable development of the relations between the two militaries,” Col. Wu said.

The PLA official underscored that the people of the two nations shared historical emotional bonds.

“China and India are neighbours that can't be moved. There are historical facts about ancient exchanges and mutual understanding. There is hope for common development.”

Colonel Wu said he recalled President Xi’s words when he visited India, about Rabindranath Tagore’s journey to China 90 years ago. “I don’t know what the reason is. To return to China is like returning to my hometown,” Col Wu quoted Tagore as saying.