Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie would visit India on September 2, indicating a thaw in bilateral military ties that hit an impediment two years ago when Beijing denied visa to an Indian Army Commander posted in Kashmir in July 2010.
The four-day visit would be the most high-profile defence exchange between the two countries since 2005 and it comes shortly before the once-in-a-decade leadership transition in China, when the 71-year-old Gen Guanglie would have to step down. The former Chief of General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), accompanied by a 24-member delegation, would land in Mumbai first and visit Gandhi Museum there. Later, he would head for Taj Mahal. From there, the Chinese leader would reach the national capital to hold discussions with his Indian counterpart A K Antony.
The Indo-China defence ties had earlier reached a stage when the two countries even started joint military exercises. However, reflecting the on and off nature of the ties, New Delhi suspended further engagements in July 2010 as Beijing refused to grant visa to Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General B S Jaswal reasoning that he was posted in “sensitive” Jammu and Kashmir region. It was followed by similar incidents, when China continued to prick India’s stated position on Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh by refusing visa to defence personnel and sportspersons from the region.
“The talks will hover around how to strengthen the military ties between the two countries that share nearly 3,300 km of disputed, yet peaceful, border. No exercises have been planned this year. So the thrust of talks with the Defence Minister is likely to be the need to plan such exercises in future,” sources said.