Beijing: Hours before former President APJ Abdul Kalam was to visit China`s top aviation body, he was told of a change in plans. He would visit the China Academy of Space Technology instead. The last minute change has sparked off speculation whether the cancellation was linked to China`s wariness over its new stealth fighter, the J-31, launched just ahead of Kalam`s visit.
Kalam, an acclaimed aviation engineer, went on his maiden visit to China on November 1 on the invite of Beijing Forum, an intellectual body sponsored by the Chinese government. The same day, official media flashed pictures of the J-31 on its test flight.
Chinese officials state that the new stealth fighter was an improvised and lighter version of the J-20, launched about two years ago, making China the second country after the US to acquire the stealth bomber.
Kalam was in China on the invitation of Beijing Forum, an intellectual body sponsored by China. He was scheduled to visit the Aviation Industry Corporation of China on November 2, where he was to be given a detailed presentation. Instead, he was taken to the space academy, the premier body in charge of China`s burgeoning space programme.
While Chinese officials were tightlipped , analysts wondered whether AVIC wanted to avoid exposure of the J-31 to India`s top aviation specialist.
Kalam was closely connected with DRDO and ISRO. Not someone to complain, Kalam made good of his visit to CAST, where he was given a presentation about China`s manned spaceflights, including the one this year, sending its first woman astronaut to the space station.