Beijing: China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Thursday said that ties with the Indian military are “improving” while thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping for the same.

Further, Defence spokesman Col Wu Qian also provided an upbeat picture of the relations between the two militaries saying the just-concluded joint counter-terrorism drills in India “showed the determination” of the two sides to protect the regional stability besides fighting terrorism. It must be noted that the two militaries have shared arduous and at times testing ties guarding the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC).

“For the China-India relations, military relationship is the important component of the overall relationship,” Col Wu told a media briefing here responding to questions on how the PLA views the relations with its Indian counterpart this year.

“Thanks to the efforts of the two heads of the state, the military relationship is improving and two countries maintain strategic dialogues and conduct practical cooperation, and also strengthen their exchanges along their borders,” he said.

Following the 73-day standoff at Doklam in 2017, two informal summits between China and India have been conducted, one in Wuhan 2018 and another in Chennai this year. The military ties constituted an important component of the two summits.

“We should carefully handle issues concerning each other’s core interests. We should properly manage and control problems that cannot be solved for the time being,” Xi said after his summit meeting with Modi in Chennai.

He also said both countries should improve the level of military and security exchanges and cooperation.

“We should promote the development of military-to-military relations in the right direction of enhancing trust, clearing up misgivings and friendly cooperation,” he said.

The two countries also held the 22nd round of the boundary talks in New Delhi in December end during which they agreed to intensify efforts to achieve a “fair”, “reasonable” and mutually acceptable solution to the vexed boundary issue.

Col Wu said the PLA looks to further develop its ties with the Indian military in 2020.

“The year 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between China and India, and the two militaries have plans to conduct various exchanges and celebration activities,” he said.

“We are willing to work together with the Indian side to follow the guidance of our heads of state and promote the military-to-military relationship continue to develop along the right track and make more contributions to the growth of the bilateral relations,” he said.

On December 21, the two sides concluded the 8th round of their Hand-in-Hand joint exercise focussing on counter terrorism joint training. The drills were successfully concluded in Shillong, Meghalaya drawing a “full circle” for the military engagements, Col Wu said.

“This joint training is to implement the consensus of the national and military leaders of the two countries and to strengthen the friendship of their troops and to promote regional peace and stability,” he said.

“During the joint training, soldiers from the two sides had mixed team training exercises and exchanged experiences in counter terrorism operations, and humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief. They also had exchanges in culture, history, sports and culinary areas,” he said.

“Through their joint training, the two sides improved their capabilities to jointly address security threats and conduct diversified military missions. The exercises and training showed determination of the two sides to fight terrorism and to protect stability in the region. It also helped to strengthen mutual trust and cooperation between the two militaries,” he said.

(With PTI inputs)