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Aero India 2023

Defence exchanges with China remains suspended: India

A file photo.

NEW DELHI (PTI): India has made it clear that defence exchanges with China will remain suspended till Beijing satisfactorily resolved issues such as denial of visa to a senior Indian General from Jammu and Kashmir.

Squarely blaming Beijing for creating a situation when India had to take a relook at its bilateral military exchanges with it, top Defence Ministry sources Wednesday said China cannot say an Indian commander from a particular region of the country could not visit their country.

India had officially suspended defence exchanges with China following the denial of visa to Northern Army Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal, who commands troops in Jammu and Kashmir, for a visit to Beijing, thereby implying that the state did not form part of Indian Territory.

"The Ministry of External Affairs has said that since one of our Army commanders had not gone there (China), we will put it (defence exchanges) on hold," the sources said.

But other local level military meetings such as the border personnel conferences "for maintaining peace and tranquility" along the Sino-Indian borders would continue.

"The reasoning is that since Lt Gen Jaswal has not gone, as far as defence exchanges are concerned, they are interrupted now," they said.

Asked what they expected China to do to improve the situation, the sources said: "We want reciprocity. We need a satisfactory resolution. We have not created this situation."

They added, "China has refused the visa (to an Indian General). You cannot say that a particular commander from a particular region of India cannot visit. We are striving for a satisfactory resolution."

Only last week, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had made it categorical that bilateral defence exchanges would remain suspended and asked China to respect its sensitivities on issues like Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh so that the relationship could be developed further.

Against the backdrop of certain recent Chinese actions that amount to questioning Jammu and Kashmir's integration with India such as denial of visa to Lt Gen Jaswal and stapled visas to civilians from the state, Krishna also urged Beijing to maintain "neutrality" on the affairs related to the state as it has always done.

The defence exchanges with China were put on hold in July following the Lt Gen Jaswal episode.

Regarding China's recent forays into the Indian Ocean and its assertiveness on the maritime front, the Defence Ministry sources said the giant neighbour had its energy supplies flowing through the seas and hence they had taken the anti-piracy operations as an opportunity to venture into the region.

But, they said India had always desired that the Indian Ocean was its domain of responsibility. "As China's economic and military power grows, they are bound to assert themselves in the region. But we do not expect any conflict in the Indian Ocean. We want it to be a zone of peace," they added.

China has been sending its warships into the Indian Ocean ostensibly to join international anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden and has been maintaining a limited maritime force there and sustaining it in the last one year.


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Brahmand World Defence Update 2023

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