As part of efforts to expand military-to-military cooperation, India and China will conduct a joint training exercise ‘Hand-in-Hand 2019’ later this week with the objective of countering terrorism under the United Nations mandate.

This will be the eighth edition of the joint exercise and will be conducted at Umroi in Meghalaya from 7-20 December.

A Chinese contingent from the Tibet Military Command comprising 130 personnel and an Indian contingent of similar size will participate in the 14-day exercise.

The Defence Ministry said the aim of the exercise was to practice joint planning and conduct of counter-terror operations in semi-urban terrains. The exercise schedule was focused on training on various lectures and drills associated with counter-terrorist handling and firing with each other’s weapons, special heliborne operations and case studies of various operations carried out in counter-terrorist environment. Two tactical exercises are scheduled during the training: one on counter-terrorism scenario and the other on Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.

The previous edition of the exercise was conducted by the two countries in December 2018. The exercise did not take place in 2017 because of the tense military stand-off between the two armies at Doklam.

The joint HiH exercise is one of the important confidence-building measures between the two largest armies in the world. The first such exercise was held at Kunming (China) in 2007.

Strategic experts say the regular engagement between the two armies is good for fostering ties and reducing tension between them arising from differences in perception about the boundary.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had held his second informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Chennai in October at which the two leaders decided not to allow differences between their two countries to become disputes.