Stop seeing China as an adversary, says IAF chief

Calling for mature statesmanship from India and China, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Saturday said the country should not look at China as an adversary anymore.

PTI| Last Updated: Nov 28, 2015, 18:06 PM IST
Stop seeing China as an adversary, says IAF chief

Hasimara: Calling for mature statesmanship from India and China, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Saturday said the country should not look at China as an adversary anymore.

"We are in the same region, we have common interests. I don't think that we should look at them as adversaries anymore," Raha told reporters here in Alipurduar district.

"Yes, we had fought a conflict, we have borders to settle. I think its time for mature statesmanship from both the countries to reconcile on many issues ... And cooperate (and) coordinate (for) development in the region," he said when asked about the "threat" from China.

Stating that two rising economic or military powers can co-exist, he said, the adversarial stance should now change into a more friendly stance.

Earlier this month, the IAF chief was reported to have cited China's growing influence in the Indian subcontinent as a major security challenge for India.

China's increasing economic and military ties with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar are all strategic moves by China to contain India, he had said. 

On security aspects, Raha admitted that India has some voids in the bordering North Eastern region.

"As far as we are concerned, we have voids in terms of capabilities for security. We have some voids in the North East. So the government as well as the armed forces are working in a concerted manner to built infrastructure, roads, rail, air connectivity and advanced landing grounds," he said.

The Air Force has already upgraded many of these advance landing grounds so that fixed wing aircraft of both the force and civil aviation can be operated, Raha said.

When asked about potential security threats related to the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor, the IAF chief said he doesn't see any security threats.

"If integration of the region is going to take place on economic development, trade, commerce, its perfectly alright. I think its a proposal which could benefit the entire region," Raha said.

On new airbases, he said IAF have no plan to make new airbases in the region but revive the existing ones and trying to operate from civilian airports for operational flexibility.

"We are not going to build something in our region because somebody is building something in their region. It is their prerogative. We are building our own infrastructure, our own capabilities so that we can secure our borders, our sovereign air spaces," Raha said.

The IAF officer said construction and infrastructure build up will take place very rapidly so that connectivity, economic activities and condition of remote areas of the country improve.

Describing Hasimara as a very important air base for the country, he said IAF is going to position important military hardware to take care of any military contingencies that may arise.