New Delhi: The complex India-China ties have come under stress again with New Delhi putting on hold the proposed visit to its northern neighbour by a team of defence personnel after Beijing denied visa to an Indian Air Force (IAF) official.
IAF Gr Capt M Panging hailing from Arunachal Pradesh was to visit China from January 10 as a member of a delegation under the defence exchange programme.
Though Beijing did not cite any reason for denying him the visa, the move was apparently in line with Chinese policy of negating India’s claim on the north eastern state. A team of 30 defence personnel drawn from the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force was to be led by an Air Vice Marshal rank official. They were to travel to Beijing, Nanjing and Shanghai.
Beijing’s denial of visa for the IAF official came up just after two Indian traders were illegally detained by local traders in Yiwu city following a commercial dispute. New Delhi also lodged a protest with Beijing over the ill-treatment of its who was negotiating for the release of the traders.
India had in August 2010 put on hold all its defence exchanges with China after Beijing declined to accept a proposal for a visit by Lt Gen B S Jaswal, the then chief the Northern Command of the Indian Army. Beijing had told New Delhi that it would not let Lt Gen Jaswal visit China as his operational area had included ‘disputed’ Jammu and Kashmir. India strongly protested and retaliated by denying visa to three officers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army who wanted to visit the National Defence College in New Delhi and Army Education Corps Training College & Centre at Panchmarhi in Madhya Pradesh.
The strains in bilateral defence ties were eased when Indian Army sent a delegation to China in June 2011. The delegation was led by Maj Gen Gurmeet Singh, the commander of the Delta Force of the Rashtriya Rifles deployed in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
Though China had declined to open its door for Lt Gen Jaswal, it agreed to accept Maj Gen Singh as the leader of the visiting Indian Army delegation, despite the fact that the latter’s operational area too included J&K. Since November 2009, New Delhi has been persistently protesting against Beijing’s policy of issuing “stapled visas”.