Beijing is likely to send a team for the Aero India show being held in Bangalore next month after an invitation was sent to the Chinese Air Force chief by the IAF. While it is unclear if the officer will attend, a senior-level delegation is expected to come.
The mega event attracts prominent aerospace companies of the world.
The invite comes amid indications that Beijing is reaching out to New Delhi and wants a new kind of engagement. It marks a change from 2011 when India had excluded China from the event but had sent out a last-minute invitation to its embassy in New Delhi. At the time, military relations were at a low over the denial of a visa to an Indian lieutenant general, as he was commanding troops in Jammu and Kashmir.
However, that seems to be a thing of the past with India going all out to ensure a cordial atmosphere at Aero India for the visit.
A detailed note is said to have been prepared to ensure that there was no discomfiture on account of the Taiwanese participation. So while Taiwan-based companies are welcome, they will be participating in their individual capacity and not as part of a national delegation. Neither will the name of Taiwan as a nation be allowed to be mentioned at individual stalls, nor will its flag or national anthem figure anywhere.
There is an assessment that China is reaching out to India given its recent engagement on the eastern side, including the island disputes.
After the recent visit of Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma to Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei spoke of building “new type of military to military relations featuring lasting stability and friendly cooperation”. After the meeting, the Chinese spokesperson termed military relations between the two countries as an “important indicator of the depth of the bilateral cooperation”.
A joint army war game is also expected this year after a gap of almost four years.