Days after India and China agreed to have maritime cooperation, Beijing has favoured greater military ties with New Delhi, saying such exchanges would help build more "confidence and trust" between the two countries.
"Exchanges between our militaries will help us build more confidence and trust with each other," Deputy Director General of Asian Department in the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sun Weidong said.
His remarks came ahead of President Hu Jintao's visit to New Delhi from Wednesday to participate in the fourth BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit.
"Our military people are positive about military cooperation and exchange of visits with India. I think China and India are strategic partners...military exchanges and cooperation are part of the partnership," Sun said.
India had suspended military exchanges with China in August 2010 after it refused to grant permission to a senior army commander posted at Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir to proceed on an official trip to Beijing.
As an immediate fallout of the event, India had refused to hold the third round of military exercise, codenamed Hand-in-Hand, with China and put all other military exchanges on hold.
The first edition of the exercise had taken place in Kunming in China in 2007 and the second was held in Belgaum in 2008.
Putting an end to the strained military relations, India had sent a military delegation to Beijing in June last year. China also reciprocated by sending its military delegation under a Lieutenant General in last November.
Asked about progress being made for having maritime cooperation between navies of the two countries, Sun said the relevant departments were looking at the proposal.
"Both the countries have long coastlines. We have maritime opportunities and relevant departments are looking at the proposal," he said.
Sun said the two sides have also discussed the possibility of establishing a China-India maritime dialogue for regular cooperation between the two navies. The idea for maritime cooperation between the two emerging naval powers was discussed during talks between
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi last month.
Talking about the possibilities of maritime cooperation, Sun mentioned about Indian navy's thwarting of an attack by Somali pirates on a Chinese merchant vessel in the Indian Ocean in May last year.
"The Indian navy had extended assistance to a Chinese ship in Indian Ocean. We had expressed our appreciation for the help...we have already organised exchange of visits of warships of the two navies," he said.
The fourth round of India-China Annual Defence Dialogue, which was held in New Delhi in December last year, had also discussed a wide range of issues relating to military cooperation between the two countries.