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Opinion | Chinese defence minister’s India visit — much ado about nothing

The reality is that there is great mistrust between the two militaries on the ground, which cannot be overcome by cosmetic exchanges of visits and personnel

August 27, 2018 / 10:36 AM IST

Jabin T Jacob

Chinese defence minister General Wei Fenghe’s visit to India last week is an occasion to consider the state of India-China military exchanges.

While military-to-military exchanges are important, there seems little to them in the India-China case beyond merely keeping up appearances. Wei’s visit was preceded by the late July visit of General Liu Xiaowu, deputy commander of the Western Theater Command (WTC) with charge of the border with India and in mid-August, of the head of the Eastern Command of the Indian Army, Lt General Abhay Krishna.

Even the business of familiarisation as is the case with these visits of theatre commanders does not mean much because these visits do not have any regular schedule and can be easily disrupted. For instance, in July 2010, after China denied a visa to the head of the Indian Army’s Northern Command on the grounds that he held command over ‘disputed territory’, it would take over five years before another head of the Northern Command would visit China.