General Bikram Singh arrived here today on a rare visit to China, the first by an Indian Army Chief in nine years, aimed at bolstering high-level strategic communication and mutual trust between the militaries of the two neighbours.
During his four-day visit General Singh will hold talks with top officials in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and meet Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao tomorrow.
The visit is of great significance as it contributes to healthy and steady development of Sino-India relations as well as ties between the two armed forces and creates a good atmosphere, the Chinese Defence Ministry said in an e-mail response to a questionnaire from PTI about Gen Singh's visit.
Relations between the two armies, the regional security situation besides issues of common concern and exchanges will come up for discussion between Gen Singh and Chinese military officials, the Chinese Defence Ministry said.
The two sides will also implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries to strengthen border exchanges and cooperation between the two armies to jointly safeguard peace and tranquility in the border areas of China and India, it said.
Terming Singh's visit an important event in this year's planned military exchanges under the ongoing "Sino-Indian Friendship Exchange Year", the Chinese Defence Ministry said the visit will strengthen high-level strategic communication and mutual trust between the two militaries.
His visit comes after the just-concluded trip of Vice President Hamid Ansari and ahead of the first meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brazil this month.
A host of issues, including the operationalisation of last year's Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) at the headquarters, command and ground level, were expected to figure in Singh's talks with the top military leadership here.
Singh, who is also Chairman of the tri-services Chiefs of Staff Committee, begins his tour formally tomorrow with a meeting with PLA Chief of General Staff Fang Fenghui followed by Vice Chairman of the China's Military Commission General Fan Changlong.
The Military Commission, headed by Chinese President Xi is the highest military body under which all the wings of the armed forces function.
After two rounds of talks with top military officials, Singh will meet Vice President and Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui.
Singh will also address cadets of the National Defence University here.
Later, he is expected to travel to Shanghai where he will visit a Chinese naval ship on the last day of his trip, officials said.
The BDCA was signed during the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit amid increasing concerns in India over the recurring incursions of PLA troops along the over 4000 km long Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The two militaries are in the process of implementing it on the ground.
There have been very few interactions between the PLA and the Indian Army until recently.
Former Army chief Gen N C Vij visited China in 2005 after which military ties remained frozen until two years ago when defence ties picked momentum following an improvement in political, economic and trade ties.