India, China back to diplomacy after visa row
India summoned China's ambassador today to protest against the refusal of a visa to an Army general from the disputed Kashmir region, the latest spat between two Asian giants jostling for global influence and resources.delhi Updated: Aug 27, 2010 19:03 IST
India summoned China's ambassador on Friday to protest against the refusal of a visa to an Army general from the disputed Kashmir region, the latest spat between two Asian giants jostling for global influence and resources.
A defence ministry source and some local media said defence ties, so far been limited to visits by military officials and the occasional exercises, were suspended, but the government did not confirm this. Defence Minister AK Antony said "ties with China will continue".
Last year, India protested against a Chinese embassy policy of issuing different visas to residents of Kashmir. New Delhi bristles at any hint that Kashmir is not part of India.
"While we value our exchanges with China, there must be sensitivity to each others' concerns," an Indian foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.
Underlining fresh tensions, India summoned Chinese ambassador Zhang Yan to complain about the denial of visa to the army general, according to senior foreign ministry officials.
Despite decades of mistrust, China is now India's biggest trade partner and the current spat, one of several over the last few years, is unlikely to snowball. The value of bilateral deals was expected to pass $ 60 billion this year, a 30-fold increase since 2000, raising the stakes in maintaining peace.
Distrust between the two economic powerhouses dates back to a 1962 border war, partly over the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh that China claims in full.
"TIES HEATING UP"
Last year, the Indian media reported on Chinese incursions along the border, incidents the India government shrugged off.
But tension has simmered, particularly over Chinese development projects in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
New Delhi is also angry at talks to encourage Chinese university research on Indian Kashmir after a meeting between a Kashmiri separatist leader and Chinese officials this year.
Every time a Chinese action has irritated India this year, New Delhi has responded by upping its engagement with the Dalai Lama, including a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Tibetan leader this month.