The committee of secretaries (CoS) headed by cabinet secretary Ajit Seth pruned the size of Beijing-bound military delegation by half —15 officers — after questions were raised on how the defence ministry had sought Chinese visas for officers without mandatory clearances.
The CoS cleared 15-member delegation headed by air vice marshal PS Mann, assistant chief of integrated defence staff, intelligence, on Saturday.
Government sources said it was after Beijing refused visas to Arunachal Pradesh-born fighter pilot group captain M Panging on Friday that it came to light that the Defence Ministry had not sought mandatory clearance from the CoS for the IDES delegation.
It is mandatory that CoS gives the go-ahead after it gets a green signal from the concerned minister for all delegations headed by additional secretary level officers and above.
"Even if we do not go into clearances, New Delhi is looking at a bigger picture with China and wants stability in the relationship. Special Representative Dai Bingguo will be here for substantive border talks next Sunday with National Security Advisor Shiv Shanker Menon," said a senior official.
Notwithstanding the controversy, the Indian delegation to Beijing has a substantive programme.
The team will visit China for four days beginning January 10, 2012. The delegation will be visiting a fighter airbase outside Beijing, a naval base in Shanghai, and infantry brigade headquarters in Nanjing apart from being entertained by PLA general staff.
The delegation will also be briefed about Chinese national defence policy as well as get a first-hand look at PLA University on science and technology.