India, China in talks to revamp 12-yr-old defence MoU; set up hotline between defence ministries

• India and China are in talks to update a 12-year-old defence agreement and establish a hotline between the two defence ministries as part of confidence-building measures.

• During Chinese Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe’s meeting with PM Modi and his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi last week, the two sides had in-depth discussions on how to further implement the important consensus reached between Modi and Xi Jinping.

• Modi and Xi, during their first-ever informal summit in Wuhan in April, reached a consensus on managing various aspects of India-China relations including the two militaries, especially in the backdrop of the Doklam standoff.

• The hotline between the two militaries – Indian Army and People’s Liberation Army – was regarded as a major confidence-building measure as it would enable both the headquarters to intensify communication to avert tension between border patrols and to avoid standoffs like Doklam.

• The tension between India and China reached their peak during a 73-day standoff in Doklam near Bhutan over Beijing’s construction of a road in the area. The standoff ended after both sides agreed to disengage.

• Wu said both the countries are also in consultations to work on a new Memorandum of Understanding between the defence ministries. In 2006, India and China signed a MoU on defence exchanges and cooperation. The Indian side conveyed its willingness to sign a new version of the MoU.

• The 2006 MoU focused on maintaining frequent exchanges between the leaders and high-level functionaries of the defence ministries, annual defence dialogue and holding joint military exchanges among others.

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