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The Indian Air Force held large-scale exercises in the India-China border area but said it had nothing to do with the recent India-China border conflict

Data photo: An Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 fighter participates in the military exercise. (24 October 2017)
Data photo: An Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 fighter participates in the military exercise. (24 October 2017)

WASHINGTON — The Indian Air Force said it will conduct training exercises in the eastern part of the country on Thursday (Dec. 15) and Friday, but the drills are not related to last week’s clashes between the two militaries on the India-China border.

Brief clashes between Chinese and Indian servicemen near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) along the disputed border on Friday left minor injuries to servicemen on both sides, but the two militaries subsequently disengaged from the region to prevent the conflict from worsening or escalating.

The conflict took place in the Tawang region of Indian-administered Arunachal Pradesh, known in China as Southern Tibet.

Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday that Indian forces had courageously prevented Chinese servicemen from crossing the Line of Actual Control into Indian territory and forcing them to return to their positions.

“(We) are fully committed to preserving our territorial integrity,” Singh said.

The physical clashes were the first new clashes between the Chinese and Indian militaries since the ongoing confrontation in eastern Ladakh two and a half years ago. In June 2020, Chinese and Indian forces engaged in fierce physical clashes in the Galwan Valley region of the border between the two countries, and although neither side fired a shot, the exchange of stones and sticks killed 20 Indian officers and soldiers, and four Chinese were killed and one seriously injured. The conflict led to a sharp deterioration in relations between the two sides and led to a series of confrontations and confrontations between the Chinese and Indian militaries in the area south of Pangong Lake.

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The physical clashes that broke out in the Galwan Valley were the most intense military clashes that broke out after the border war between the two countries ended in 1962.

Following the serious physical clashes in the Galwan Valley and the ensuing confrontations and confrontations, the two sides held a series of high-level dialogues at the level of commanders, which led to the withdrawal of both forces from the Line of Actual Control in the Ladakh region in order to disengage.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin sought to downplay tensions along the border when asked by reporters at a regular news conference on Tuesday about the latest clashes along the Sino-Indian border.

“As far as we know, the current situation on the China-India border is generally stable, and the two sides have been maintaining smooth communication on border-related issues through diplomatic and military channels,” Wang said. “It is hoped that the Indian side and the Chinese side will meet each other halfway, earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strictly abide by the spirit of the relevant agreements signed by the two sides, and jointly safeguard peace and tranquility in the China-India border areas.”

Indian media reported that when physical clashes broke out between Chinese and Indian soldiers last Friday, the Indian Air Force took off warplanes to alert them.

The Indian Air Force said Thursday that Eastern Air Command will hold exercises to train pilots.

“This exercise was planned long before the recent incident in Tawang and has nothing to do with it,” the Indian Air Force said.

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According to The Hindu, the Indian Air Force will dispatch all front-line fighters and other assets deployed in the Sino-Indian border area during the two-day exercise on Thursday and Friday.

The Indian Air Force said the last of 36 Rafale fighters purchased from France at a cost of 7.9 billion euros had also flown to India. The Indian Air Force deployed its first Rafale fighter squadron at Ambala airbase in northwest India. The 101st Squadron of the Eastern Command stationed in the Sino-Indian border area began deploying Rafale fighters in July last year, and the number of Rafale fighters deployed by India in the Sino-Indian border area has reached 18.

The Indian Air Force said the large-scale exercises held by the Indian Air Force Eastern Command were also held in response to the increasing activity of Chinese Air Force warplanes on the Chinese side of the Sino-Indian border.

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