India denies visa to three Chinese Army officers, defence ties on hold

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 28 2010, 05:30am hrs
In a latest diplomatic row between India and China, three Chinese Army officers have been denied visas to India as a fallout of Beijing saying the visit of an Indian Army officer to China would be inappropriate as he had Jammu and Kashmir under his command, sources said on Friday.

According to sources, Two captains of the Chinese Army were to visit Pachmarhi and a senior colonel was to visit the National Defence College (NDC) and they have been denied visas.

They said the proposal for the visit of Lt Gen BS Jaswal, who heads the sensitive Northern Command that guards the borders with China and Pakistan, had been communicated to China in July. At that time China had said it would be difficult to give Jaswal a visa as he is posted in territory that is difficult, the sources said.

We want a candid discussion with China to resolve this issue and till then, there will be no military ties with China, the sources said. However, this view was at variance with the view taken by defence minister AK Antony, who said the cancellation of Jaswals visit was not the question of breaking ties. There are occasional problems but that will not affect our broader approach, he told mediapersons in Hyderabad.

Accusing the Chinese of being inconsistent, the sources said they had issued a visa to Lt Gen VK Singh to visit Beijing when he headed the Indian Armys Eastern Command that has jurisdiction over Arunachal Pradesh, over which China has staked its claim. Adding, We want a fair resolution of all issues, including the Chinese practice of issuing stapled visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh.

Earlier in the day, Chinese envoy Zhang Yang visited South Block Friday afternoon to meet officials of the ministry of external affairs and held meetings with senior officials of the ministry, sources said. The external affairs ministry said Lt Gen Jaswals visit had not taken place due to certain reasons.

While we value our exchanges with China, there must be sensitivity to each others concerns, said ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash. The ministry also said that India and China had an important, multi-faceted and complex relationship. Our interaction has been growing in a number of areas, including defence. In recent years, we have had useful defence exchanges at various levels, Prakash added.

Last year, India protested a Chinese embassy policy of issuing different visas to Kashmir residents. New Delhi bristles at any hint that Kashmir is not part of India. Despite decades of mistrust, China is Indias biggest trade partner. The current spat is unlikely to snowball. The value of bilateral deals was expected to pass $ 60 billion this year, a 30-fold increase since 2000, raising the stakes in maintaining peace.

Jaswal visited China two years ago as Eastern corps chief

Defence exchanges between India and China have been put on hold after Beijing refused permission to Northern Army Commander Lt Gen BS Jaswal to visit that country because he comes from sensitive Jammu and Kashmir.

Lt Gen Jaswal was to visit China in July as part of defence exchanges but it could not take place in view of the Chinese objection. In retaliation, India has put on hold visits by Chinese defence officials here. But Jaswal visited China in 2008 when he was commanding a Corps in the eastern sector on the Sino-Indian border. Not only that, Beijing did not seem to have any problems, until last year, with military commanders from Jammu and Kashmir visiting China as Lt Gen S K Singh, 14 Corps Commander at Leh, was part of a defence delegation to the country and even visited Lhasa.

The sudden turnaround by China to bar Jaswals visit, which many suspect is inspired by Beijings relations with Islamabad, has come as a surprise as the General is very well known to the top brass of the Chinese military as he led a delegation to the country in September 2008, the year that saw an increase in visits by top military leaders. Not only that, since taking over as Northern Army Commander, Jaswal has continuously downplayed reports of Chinese intrusions and infiltrations at numerous occasions, dispelling reports about increasing border incidents.

Despite reports of intrusions, Jaswal had told The Indian Express earlier this year that there was more of a difference of perception on the boundary. These transgressions continue because of India and Chinas differing perception of the Line of Actual Control, he said.