A warning has been issued to top military officers not to speak out-of-turn on critical foreign policy questions like China, senior Indian officials travelling with PM Manmohan Singh to Yekaterinburg, Russia, said on Monday.
The clarification came hours before Singh met Chinese President Hu Jintao late on Monday night, a day ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Yekaterinburg.
The officials said that statements made by outgoing Air Force chief F.H. Major and serving Air Marshal K.D. Singh on China did not constitute government of India policy towards Beijing.
Major had told HT days before retiring from office that China, not Pakistan, constituted the bigger threat to India. The Air Marshal had also accused China of indulging in ethnic cleansing in Tibet.
“They should not have said what they said. All officers have been asked to be careful about what they say. Policy statements are made by ministers in India,” the officials said.
Asked whether China constituted a threat to India, they maintained that there would be both competition and cooperation with Beijing. Several complex issues remained with China and appropriate dialogue forums were available to deal with these, they pointed out.