PLAAF Chief Gen. Qiao Quingchen on historic trip to India
Chinese air force chief, Gen. Qiao Quingchen, is in India on a three-day visit.
Qiao's trip comes five months after then Indian defence minister Pranab Mukherjee travelled to Beijing on a historic visit that saw the countries sign a landmark agreement on cooperation in the defence field envisaging joint exercises by their armed forces and counter-terrorism measures.
While his talks with Indian military and civilian leaders are likely to focus on defence cooperation, issues like trade and the border question are also likely to figure.
Qiao's visit is also likely to have a bearing on the next border meeting of the two armies at Bumla in Arunachal Pradesh Monday-Tuesday.
Qiao is the second ranking Chinese military official to visit India this year after the People's Liberation Army's chief of staff, Gen. Liang Guanglie.
He arrived here from Pakistan, where President Pervez Musharraf conferred on him the country's highest military honour, the Nishan-I-Imtiaz, for promoting relations between the air forces of the two countries.
Putting behind them the bitterness of their 1962 border war, India and China have been steadily improving their ties in the strategic, economic and cultural spheres.
Qiao's visit comes ahead of a journey slated for November by Chinese President Hu Jintao that is expected to take economic and strategic ties between the Asian giants to new heights.
China gives overflight permission to Indian Air Force
Beijing: As an exceptional gesture that reflected growing warmth in bilateral ties, China has allowed an aircraft with Indian Air Force insignia, which was carrying Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora, to cross its territory for the first time in over 40 years.
The Brazilian Embraer aircraft of IAF's VIP squadron carrying Deora, who is Indian prime minister's special envoy to the summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Conference on Interactions and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, was allowed to fly into and out of China, Doordarshan News said here, last night.
Deora and his nine-member team flew first to the eastern megapolis Shanghai and later westward to Almaty in Kazakhstan with a night halt at Chengdu, the center of China's military aircraft manufacturing.
Indian diplomats described China's gesture as a sign of growing trust and warmth between the two Asian giants, whose ties witnessed improvement since the 1962 war.
In 2001, Beijing rejected Indian request for an air corridor for the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's special flight to St Petersburg through the Chinese route to save on several hours of tiring journey over Iran.
MoU on Defense Cooperation with People's Republic of China
Defence Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee and Gen. Cao Gangchuan, Minister of National Defence of the People's Republic of China, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Exchanges and Cooperation in the field of Defence between India and China.
The MOU provides a formal basis for the defence and military exchanges that have been taking place between the two countries in the last few years. The MOU specifically reiterates the desire of the two countries to have exchanges in the following fields:
Frequent exchanges between the leaders and high-level functionaries of the Defence Ministries and the Armed Forces of the two countries. Both sides will work out an annual programme of exchanges.
An Annual Defence Dialogue, hosted alternatively by the two sides to review progress in the defence exchanges, make suggestions for the future and to exchange views on international, security and strategic issues.
Holding of joint military exercises and training programmes in the field of search and rescue, anti-piracy, counter-terrorism and other areas of mutual interest. Each side will invite senior military officers of the other side to witness designated military exercises.
Establish a mechanism of study tours for each other's senior and middle *level officials in order to facilitate better understanding of the foreign, defence and national development policies of the host side.
Participation in seminars and discussions on themes to be mutually agreed upon.
Exchanges in other mutually agreed field to be decided through consultation.
The MOU is a major confidence building measure (CBM) in the defence field between India and China and is expected to contribute towards building up greater understanding and trust.
India, China to intensify military ties
Beijing: India and China, who fought a bitter war four decades ago, Monday agreed to intensify cooperation in the defence field, envisaging joint exercises by their armed forces and counter-terrorism measures.
Visiting Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Chinese counterpart Gen. Cao Gangchuan signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that 'provides a formal basis for the defence and military exchanges that have been taking place between the two countries in the last few years'.
According to the Indian defence ministry officials, the MoU singles out the following fields:
* Holding of joint military exercises and training programmes in the field of search and rescue, anti-piracy, counter-terrorism and other areas of mutual interest. Each side will invite senior military officers of the other side to witness designated military exercises.
* Frequent exchanges between the leaders and high-level functionaries of the defence ministries and the armed forces of the two countries. Both sides will work out an annual programme of exchanges.
* An annual Defence Dialogue, hosted alternatively by the two sides, to review progress in the defence exchanges, make suggestions for the future and to exchange views on international, security and strategic issues.
* Establish a mechanism of study tours for each other's senior- and middle-level officials in order to facilitate better understanding of the foreign, defence and national development policies of the host side.
* Participation in seminars and discussions on themes to be mutually agreed upon.
* Exchanges in other mutually agreed fields to be decided through consultation.
'The MOU is a major confidence building measure (CBM) in the defence field between India and China and is expected to contribute towards building up greater understanding and trust,' the Indian officials said.
Xinhua adds: Mukherjee told reporters after his talks with Cao that India attached great importance to the strategic and cooperative partnership with China.
The Indian government, he maintained, would work with China on the basis of mutual respect and trust to continue deepening defence and military exchanges.
Cao told reporters that during his talks with Mukherjee, the Chinese government hoped peace, stability and economic growth would continue in the South Asia region.
Cao, who is also vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission and state councillor, said the Chinese government supported efforts of South Asian nations to push for regional cooperation.
Friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation were in the fundamental interests of China and India, and were conducive to the peace, stability and development of Asia and the world, Cao said.
Mukherjee arrived here Sunday for a six-day visit as a guest of Cao. This is his first trip to China since assuming office in May, 2004. He will also hold talks with other Chinese leaders and senior military officers.
Mukherjee will visit northwest China's Gansu province and Shanghai municipality, the country's economic hub in east China.
India to seek larger interaction with Chinese armed forces
New Delhi: Proposing new initiatives to build further confidence in ties, India is seeking larger interaction with the Chinese armed forces by scaling-up the level of joint exercises and training programmes.
"My efforts will be to have much larger participation in joint military exercises, more exchange of visits by armed forces personnel and an expanded mutual training programme," Pranab Mukherjee, who embarks on his first visit as Defence Minister to China early next month, told PTI today.
Though India and Chinese navies have held two rounds of joint naval manoeuvres of substantive content, the interaction between the ground forces has been confined to border bonhomie meetings and mountaineering expeditions. There has been no no air force to air force contact.
Now apparently, Mukherjee wants to break the ice by proposing greater military-to military interaction, even as top emissaries continue to sit across to resolve the boundary dispute across the Himalayan frontier.
"We have developed relationship with China politically, economically and commercially....These all-round developments, I think, should also be reflected in defence cooperation," Mukherjee said.
Observing that the two countries have taken "good initiatives" in developing confidence building measures along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Mukherjee said "their (China's) admission of Sikkim as an integral part of India is a major development, which the Chinese Prime Minister made during his visit to India in April last year. "In that context, my efforts would be to expand this (India-China) relationship in defence cooperation by larger participation in joint exercises, exchange of visits (by armed forces officers) and training and defence-related activities. I would like to build-up closer cooperation with China," Mukherjee said.
His visit to China comes in the wake of stepped up momentum in visits by top military leaders and commanders on either side. Indian Army commanders as well as top brass from People's Liberation Army have recently acted as observers in large-scale ground forces' manoeuvres.
Though Mukherjee did not not elaborate on the issue of expansion of military exercise, according to sources, the two countries might propose to hold joint ground forces' exercises initially on the borders and later take them to the level of holding interaction on subjects like anti-insurgency operations and peacekeeping.
While reflecting on China, the Defence Minister also gave insight into efforts to demilitarise the world's highest battlefield, Siachen Glacier, located at the tri-junction of India, China and Pakistan. Not reading much into reports that New Delhi and Islamabad were almost close to a settlement on Siachen, he said that in the ongoing formal talks between the two countries, Pakistan was yet to convey its acceptance of the Indian proposal for verifying the actual ground positions held on the glacier before undertaking any troop withdrawal.
"What we are demanding is that for all times to come, there should be some indication before withdrawal what were the positions of the respective troops," he said.
"This is the point that we are emphasising and this is the area where differences are there," the Defence Minister said.
Elaborating, he said, Islamabad's argument is when both sides are withdrawing troops from their existing positions, "what is the point of it being noted or indicated".
While affirming that both countries agreed in principle to withdraw forces from their respective position on the Glacier, he said New Delhi wanted that before a proposed withdrawal or move-out took place, it was "important to authenticate who has occupied what positions.
"Unless this position is sorted out, I cannot give the time-frame for a settlement," he said.
"These types of reports (in the media) have no no meaning unless we finally agree in form al talks between the two countries," he added.
India, China to hold military-level talks
Beijing: India and China will discuss bilateral military-to-military ties in Beijing early next week as part of efforts to enhance mutual trust between the armies of the two neighbours, official sources said today.
The discussions will take place when the GOC-in-C Eastern Command, Lt Gen Arvind Sharma, will pay an official visit to China from February 20-25 at the invitation of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
The visit is part of ongoing bilateral defence exchanges and contributes to enhanced trust and understanding, official sources here said.
During his stay in China, Lt Gen Sharma will have meetings with PLA officers and visit the Chinese capital Beijing, the capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Urumqi, headquarters of Chengdu Military Region in Chengdu and Shanghai, the Communist nation's economic hub.
His visit to Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan province assumes importance as the Chinese side of the Sino-Indian border is under the command of the Chengdu Military Region of the PLA.
At the same time, the Eastern Command of the Indian Army guards the Indian side of the India-China border.
Analysts say both India and China attach importance to improving relations and more cooperative exchanges between the two militaries at different levels.
They also noted that both countries have agreed that differences should not be allowed to affect the overall development of bilateral relations which have witnessed rapid progress recently.