'Gen Liang's visit signals normalisation of China-India ties'
Beijing: As Chinese Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie started his official tour to India, analysts here said his visit signals bilateral military exchanges were back on track, paving the way for cooperation on security issues.
Liang's visit showed that military exchanges between Asia's two largest powers have "returned to normal", Fu Xiaoqiang, an expert on South Asian studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told state-run China Daily.
"I think visit of General Liang will also enrich the two countries' cooperation in military and security," as the defence ties were on hold since 2004, Fu said.
Gen Liang's delegation also includes senior officers from the South Sea Fleet of Chinese navy.
"I would rather see the current political climate as an opportunity for China and India. If the two handle it properly, dialogues on various issues will help us avoid doubts and embrace more opportunities for the comprehensive development of Sino-Indian relations," he said.
These are the first comments from the Chinese establishment on Gen Liang's visit which is first by Chinese Defence Minister in eight years.
According to the Ministry of National Defence, Liang and his delegation, includes high-ranking members of the Chinese defence and military establishment.
The India-China defence suffered a major set back in 2009 when China began issuing visas for resident of Jammu and Kashmir on a piece of paper instead of stamping on the passport stating that it was a disputed territory.
India virtually called off military exchanges after visa was denied to a top army official of the Northern Command on the ground that he headed forces in the disputed region.
Beijing finally relented by informally conveying to India that the practice has been stopped even though there nothing has been stated in writing. Since then pace of visits by Indian delegations which included officials from the Northern Command have picked up.
The Deputy Chief of Staff of People's Liberation Army, (PLA) Ma Xiaotian visited New Delhi in last December to take part in the Defence and Security dialogue.
An Indian defence delegation also recently visited for the first time Tibet besides other centres.