Friday, August 27, 2010

China in damage-control mode after stopping Indian General's visit

NDTV Correspondent, Updated: August 27, 2010 18:04 IST
New Delhi: India is fuming over China rejecting a proposal by the Ministry of Defence to send a top Indian Army officer on a visit to that country. China said he was unwelcome because he is serving in Jammu and Kashmir, and now Beijing seems to be in damage-control mode.

New Delhi has made clear that China saying Lt-General B S Jaswal, the Army's General Officer Commander-in-Chief, Northern Command, was not welcome is unacceptable, government sources said.

Ministry of Defence sources said Beijing had refused to allow Gen Jaswal's visit because he "controlled" Jammu & Kashmir, a state that China maintains is disputed. Gen Jaswal's visit was to have been a regular high-level exchange trip to China this August.

The Chinese ambassador to India was summoned to the Ministry of External Affairs. He had a 25-minute meeting with the Joint Secretary in charge of China.

China is now sending a senior Colonel (equivalent to a Brigadier in the Indian Army) to sort out the matter in the first week of September. He will meet a Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Defence in charge of international cooperation.

Government sources also said three Chinese army officers had been denied visa after the Jaswal incident and pointed out that J&K was as important to India as Tibet was to China. The sources also said that China's linkages with Pakistan occupied Kashmir were worrying.

The sources said Beijing possibly did not expect India to react strongly. India is waiting and watching. Defence ties are on hold, but have not been cancelled, the sources said.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said dialogue with China on these issues is on. India, the ministry said, valued its exchanges with China and there must be sensitivity to each other's concerns.

While the MEA is inclined to cautiously downplay the row, the Army and the Ministry of Defence are furious, letting the Chinese know bluntly that this is unacceptable.

Stating firmly that India did not accept China's stand on Jaswal, government sources said India-China relations were very complex and there were mechanisms in place to overcome obstacles. This issue had added another complex dimension.

The sources said fair resolution of this issue would be achieved if the Chinese stopped issuing stapled visas.

Meanwhile, both Congress and BJP have reacted to this controversy.

"I am sure the MEA will take cognizance of this matter. Both India and China must respect the sensitivities of each other," said Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari.

The BJP wants India to take it up at the highest level. "The MEA should urgently take up this issue with China. It is a very serious matter. India should express displeasure," said BJP's Prakash Jawadekar.

  • The India-China annual defence dialogue held in January 2010 approved high-level delegation visits.
  • In June 2010, India proposed a visit to China by Gen Jaswal.
  • India's Defence Attache in Beijing met a senior official of China's Ministry of National Defence.
  • In the third week of July, India again reminded the Chinese about the scheduled visit.
    China rejected the visit and cited the following reasons:
  • Northern Command location is sensitive
  • People from Jammu and Kashmir are given different type of visa (stapled visa)
  • Visit will lead to unnecessary trouble thereby lead to adverse impact on Sino-India relations
  • Visit will lead to possible media hype.
    China in damage-control mode after stopping Indian General's visit
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