New Delhi: The Indian Army's biggest ever mountain combat exercise in Arunachal Pradesh ahead of China President Xi Jinping's visit to India this month is reported to have irked Beijing, which considers large parts of Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet.
'Him Vijay' is the first ever such drill that the military is holding in the northeastern state. Three battle groups, each comprising 4,000 soldiers, are participating in the exercise at a height of 14,000 feet - 100 kms away from the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The drill is being carried out in phases in the upper reaches of Arunachal Pradesh near Tawang, and will end on October 25. The exercises are being held at a time when Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to visit India for the second informal meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, likely in Mahabalipuram.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui, who is in Delhi to oversee the visit of President Xi, is reported to have raised the issue during his meeting with Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on Thursday.
The dates for Xi's India visit have not been announced yet.
His visit comes amid strains in India-China ties over the issue of Kashmir, with Beijing choosing to side with good friend Pakistan. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had also raised the Kashmir issue at the UNGA last week.
In this exercise, the capability of newly-conceived Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) will be tested. The 'Him Vijay' will include troop mobilisation, mountain assault and air assault.
In February too, China had "firmly opposed" the visit of Modi to Arunachal Pradesh to inaugurate projects there.