This meeting follows a series of such meetings close on the heels of the Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April

NEW DELHI: India and China on Wednesday held a border personnel meeting at Nathu La in Sikkim to celebrate the 91st anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), indicating the growing cooperation between the two forces.

The Indian Army said that on PLA’s invitation, a delegation of the Indian Army comprising of officers and soldiers took part in the celebration. The PLA troops interacted with the visiting Indian delegation and presented a cultural programme to celebrate the occasion. The Indian side also reciprocated with cultural events.

“Celebrations took place in a very festive environment and provided opportunity to both sides to display their rich culture. Such interactions between both armies have resulted in promoting mutual understanding and contributed towards achieving common goals of peace and tranquillity along the borders,” said the army.

This meeting follows a series of such meetings close on the heels of the Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April. The two leaders had issued “strategic guidance” to their militaries to build trust to avoid future Doklam like stand-offs and improve effectiveness in managing border affairs. They had further directed their militaries to implement various confidence-building measures agreed between the two sides, including the principle of mutual and equal security, and strengthen existing institutional arrangements and information-sharing mechanisms. Two days after the summit on May 1, the Indian Army and Chinese PLA held a special border personnel meeting (BPM), an immediate confidence building measure, at the Chushul-Moldo point in eastern Ladakh. 

BPMs are ceremonial meetings which are held between the Indian Army and Chinese PLA on auspicious occasions for the two nations such as Independence Day, Republic Day and PLA Day (August 1) every year. The meetings are held at five locations- Daulat Beg Oldie and Chushul in Ladakh, Bumla and Kibithu in Arunachal Pradesh and Nathu La in Sikkim. During the meetings, the two armies engage in discussions, sports and group activities, which are means to ensure peace at the LAC and harmony between each other.

Even on June 21, soldiers from both armies did yoga together at over 16,000 feet in Eastern Ladakh. Indian Army personnel deployed in Eastern Ladakh celebrated the Fourth International Yoga Day at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO)- Tien Wein Dien meeting point with PLA troops. About 21 PLA troops had participated at the the DBO BPM hut.

Last year, however, the situation was different, as the relationship between the two armies was tense. This followed the Doklam standoff, which began in mid-June 2017 after Indian personnel based at Doka La in Sikkim had stopped a Chinese construction party from building a road in the Doklam area. The Chinese were trying to disrupt the status quo by constructing a road towards the Jampheri Ridge, which overlooks the strategic Siliguri Corridor.

Even BPMs were affected. Last year, BPMs were to take place on August 1. The BPMs were to be hosted by the PLA, but they never called their Indian counterparts. Then for August 15, the Indian Army sent invites to their counterparts for attending BPMs. But the PLA didn’t respond and therefore the meetings were not held.