Kathmandu, April 16 (IANS) The first ever joint military drill between Nepal and China — Sagarmatha Friendship-2017 — kicked off at Nepal Army’s Para Training School in Maharajgunj here on Sunday.
The Chinese Army’s squad is participating in the military exercise that will focus on counter terrorism and disaster response. The 10-day exercise will conclude on April 25.
DGMO of Nepal Army General Binod Kumar Shrestha inaugurated the exercise.
Though Nepal and China were planning a big-scale military exercise, the strong opposition from New Delhi given its special diplomatic and military ties with Kathmandu has forced Kathmandu to limit the size and nature of the drill, sources said.
“We hope that such joint military exercise would help the Nepali and Chinese armies to boost their professional capabilities,” Gen. Shrestha said.
Highlighting the historic ties between Nepali and Chinese armies, Colonel Yang Shumeng, leading the Chinese side, said such exercise would help understanding on counter terrorism and strengthening military ties.
The joint training with China marks the Nepali Army’s extension of military diplomacy.
The army has long been conducting joint military drills with the Indian and US armies.
A small Chinese troop contingent will be participating in the first ever drill with an equal number of Nepal Army personnel whereas it was earlier planned at battalion-level.
The exercise is taking place at the Maharajgunj-based training school where Yuddha Bhairab, Mahabir and Bhairabnath Battalions are located.
Initially it was planned outside Kathmandu.
The country’s army said the military exercise with China was a step towards preparations against the possible threat from terrorism.
The Nepal Army maintained that the drill was part of its regular bilateral and multilateral military exercises aimed at sharing experiences, skills and professional knowledge which it has been doing regularly with the nations that Nepal shares diplomatic ties with.
The national defence forces from the two countries have increased their engagement of late.
On February 19, Major General Zhao Jinsong of the western command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army was in Nepal on a three-day visit.
This was followed by a visit by Defence Minister and State Councillor Chang Wanquan in March. Chang had announced 300 million Yuan (Rs 4.5 billion) in military aid to Nepal.