China’s Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie (File photo/AFP)
DHARAMSHALA, August 1: China’s Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie has expressed his desire to visit India to bolster defence ties after an Indian army delegation reportedly made a rare visit to Tibet last month.
Although details are scare, the multi command Indian military delegation headed by a Major General made a day long visit to Lhasa, Tibet’s capital on July 11 and interacted with the officers of a Chinese military regiment based there.
The visit, seen as efforts by both the Asian giants at improving military ties, was hosted by the Chengdu Military Region, responsible for guarding the disputed border with India.
Recently, Ambassador S Jaishankar became the first Indian envoy to travel to Tibet in a decade. His visit came on the heels of New Delhi’s request to re-open its consulate in Lhasa, fifty years after it was shut following the 1962 border war between India and China.
The last time an Indian military delegation visited Tibet was in August 2009, when Lt Gen V.K. Singh, then Army Commander, Eastern Command paid a weeklong visit to Tibet and China.
According to The Hindu, General Liang will likely visit New Delhi in September, shortly before the 18th Party Congress opens in Beijing to finalise China’s once in a decade leadership change.
The paper quoted sources as saying that the Indian government has “responded positively” to his proposal.
India and China, after becoming neighbours in 1959 with China’s occupation of Tibet, have shared strained military relations that even saw a complete suspension of defence exchanges in 2010 for more than one year.
The People’s Liberation Army had refused to host the then head of the Northern Command, Lieutenant General B.S. Jaswal, on the grounds that he was serving in the “sensitive” region of Jammu and Kashmir.