India launched major military drills Monday, including along contested border areas with China, which will continue during the G20 summit in New Delhi that President Xi Jinping will skip.
The 11 days of drills named “Trishul”, or trident, were “an annual training exercise” in northern zones bordering Pakistan and China, a defence official told AFP, declining to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
India has been wary of its northern neighbour’s growing military assertiveness and their 3,500-kilometre (2,200-mile) shared frontier has been a perennial source of friction.
Tensions flared again last week after a Chinese map claimed land that Indian authorities say is theirs, including territory close to where they battled in 2020.
Tens of thousands of soldiers have since been massed along both sides of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that divides them.
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China’s Xi held a rare face-to-face meeting in South Africa last month.
But China’s Premier Li Qiang will attend the G20 summit on September 9-10, a foreign ministry spokeswoman in Beijing said Monday.
Modi’s government has pumped billions of dollars into connectivity projects on its side of the border to boost civilian presence, and establish new paramilitary battalions.
India is also seeking to develop closer ties with Western countries, including fellow Quad members the United States, Japan and Australia, which are also wooing New Delhi as an alternative to China.