Prime Minister Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping last week in an unprecedented two-day 'heart-to-heart' summit to "solidify" the India-China relationship and build on trust between the two countries.
"Leaders of the two nations have reportedly agreed to set up a hotline between their respective military headquarters," state-run daily Global Times reported today.
The reported move comes after PM Modi and Xi Jinping agreed to issue "strategic guidance to their respective militaries to strengthen communication in order to build trust and mutual understanding and enhance predictability and effectiveness in the management of border affairs."
The hotline was regarded as a major confidence building measure as it would enable both the military headquarters to intensify communication to avert tensions during border patrol along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) and to avert standoffs like in Doklam.
The troops of India and China stood eye-to-eye in the 73-day standoff in Doklam which began on June 16 last year after the Indian Army stopped the illegal construction of a road by the Chinese Army in the disputed area.
Bhutan and China have a dispute over Doklam. The face-off had ended on August 28.
The hotline was under discussion for long, but reportedly bogged down over procedures like what level it should be established in at the headquarters.
The Chinese military too underwent major reforms initiated by President Xi under which its command structures have undergone major changes. For instance, India and Pakistan have hotline facilities between Director Generals of Military Operations or DGMOs. But in the context of China, the Chinese military has to identify a designated official to operate such a facility.
The Border Defence Cooperation Agreement was aimed to establish peace along the LAC.
"Military trust between China and India is crucial to bilateral relations and demands patience and sincerity from both sides," experts were quoted as saying by the daily.
"The informal summit in Wuhan is a good start to alleviating stress between the two countries, which is the basis for future communication and trust building," Zhao Gancheng, director of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies' Centre for Asia-Pacific Studies, told the daily.
"Military trust and military cooperation should be the direction that both sides make efforts to achieve, though it will take some time," Mr Zhao said.
The two militaries were expected to resume "hand-in-hand" annual exercises which were disrupted last year due to the Doklam standoff.
"It is also important to implement the agreement on border issues that have been recognised by both countries," Mr Zhao noted.
The armies of India and China held a Border Personnel Meeting in Chusul in Ladakh yesterday, during which both sides resolved to maintain peace and tranquillity along the LAC, besides agreeing to work on additional confidence building measures.
The Border Personnel Meeting was the first such meeting after the informal summit between Xi Jinping and PM Modi last week.
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