Key Indian military team's visit to China uncertain

Uncertainty looms over a significant military team's visit to China next week, a fallout of the Chinese incursion of April 15.

It is learnt that the defence ministry is reconsidering a proposed visit by senior military officials and bureaucrats to China beginning May 11.

About 15 officers of the rank of brigadier from the National Defence College, India's premier school for grooming future leaders, are slated to visit China and Thailand as part of the college's two-week foreign countries tour programme.

A top source told HT that the government was thinking of cancelling the China leg of the tour and pairing Thailand with another country, in the wake of China's refusal to order its troops out of Indian territory in eastern Ladakh.

"We have backup plans in case the border standoff requires us to rework the itinerary," an NDC source said.

If the China tour is called off, the participants will miss out on interactions with high-ranking Chinese military officials and visits to key military, industrial, and financial establishments.

This is not the first time that the NDC, set up in 1960, may have to reschedule a foreign tour. A visit to Germany had to be called off in the aftermath of the second nuclear test conducted by India in 1998. The officers then visited Egypt and Mauritius.

The NDC, which is under direct control of the defence ministry, is equivalent to the internationally-renowned Royal College of Defence Studies in the UK.

A former army chief said the government should knock off China from the NDC itinerary to send out a message that Chinese incursions can disrupt bilateral military ties.

The army is believed to have told the government that India needed to send out a strong message to China that it would not accept a prolonged Chinese presence on the Indian side.


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