China begins military drill with Pakistan (China Daily)08:38, November 15, 2011 BEIJING - China kicked off a two-week joint anti-terrorism drill on Monday with its western neighbor Pakistan near Islamabad. The exercise, dubbed "Friendship 2011", is the fourth of its kind between the two countries. A total of 260 soldiers, special forces and army aviation helicopters from the Chinese side, as well as 230 of their Pakistani counterparts, are participating in the drill, according to the Ministry of National Defense. The two countries held their first joint anti-terrorism exercise in China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in 2004. The second was carried out in Pakistan's Abbottabad in 2006, and the third took place in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region last year. The latest drill is aimed at "enhancing the two armies' joint capability in responding to unconventional security threats", the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement, echoing its earlier remark that the drill is "not targeted at any third nation". The drill will end on Nov 27, it said in a statement. China and India, meanwhile, are planning to hold a joint military exercise in 2012 during the next round of annual defense consultative talks to be held in mid-December, a top Indian army official was quoted as saying by New Delhi-based IANS News Agency on Sunday. The world's two most populous and largest developing countries have so far held two bilateral military exercises, the first in Kunming, China, in 2007, and the second in Karnataka, India, the following year. Pan Zheng, a researcher at the National Defense University, said the Sino-Indian drill has been put on hold as New Delhi thinks it has little to gain from the exercises. "It instead turned to countries such as the US, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines," Pan said. "There is no reason for India to react to the exercise with any out-of-the-ordinary emotions ... China holds regular drills with both India and Pakistan," he said. Issues between China and India "can and should be resolved without foregoing the benefits of bilateral interaction", an editorial in The Hindu newspaper said on Saturday. Earlier this month, a report in the Times of India quoted intelligence sources in the country as saying that "China is believed to be once again trying to put pressure on India through the Pakistani border adjoining Rajasthan". India has repositioned its national security strategy and is "starting to treat China as a de facto competitor", the People's Liberation Army Daily said in a commentary last week. "China has always adhered to the principle of 'peaceful rise'. But this has been misinterpreted by some countries as a 'rising threat'," it said. The commentary came as India announced the largest army expansion initiative in its history, a $13 billion modernization program that will deploy 90,000 more soldiers and raise four new divisions along India's border with China, where the two countries clashed in 1962. When asked about the plan, the country's Minister of State for Defense M M Pallam Raju said: "Wherever we feel there is a threat, adequate measures will be taken." The Indian military is also in the final phase of securing what is said to be the world's largest defense deal - a $20 billion fighter jet contract - after New Delhi gave the green light to deploy Brahmos cruise missiles against China, the first time it has taken such a step with offensive tactical missiles. India should be "aimed at strengthening relations (with China) and furthering mutuality of interests in a spirit of understanding and accommodation", wrote S Raghavan, an official-turned-analyst, for The Business Line newspaper in India.