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India 'suspends' defence ties with China over rejected visa

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-08-27

India has suspended defence exchanges with China after an Indian army general was refused a visa to enter the country in the latest flare-up between the two Asian giants, reports say.

REUTERS - India has protested to China after Beijing refused a visa to an Indian army general from the disputed Kashmir region, the latest diplomatic spat between two Asian giants jostling for global influence and resources.

A defence ministry source and some local media said defence ties, which have so far been limited to visits by military officials and the occasional exercises, were suspended, but the Indian government did not confirm this.
Last year, India protested against a Chinese embassy policy of issuing different visas to residents of Indian Kashmir. New Delhi bristles at any hint that Kashmir, where a separatist insurgency has raged for two decades, is not part of India.
"While we value our exchanges with China, there must be sensitivity to each others' concerns. Our dialogue with China on these issues is ongoing," India's foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.
Despite decades of mistrust, China is now India's biggest trade partner. 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, partly over the north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh state which China claims in full.
Bad blood
China's support for India's arch enemy Pakistan, which backs the Kashmir separatists and also claims the region in full, has not helped defuse tensions.
China defeated India in the 1962 conflict, but they still spar over their disputed 3,500 km (2,170 mile) Himalayan border and the presence of exiled Tibetan separatist leader, the Dalai Lama, in India.
Last year, the Indian media reported on Chinese incursions along the border, incidents both governments shrugged off.
India is also unhappy with China's economic and political ties with Pakistan and says Chinese involvement in Pakistan-held Kashmir is intended to undermine it.
India holds 45 percent of the disputed Himalayan region while Pakistan controls a third. China holds the remainder of Kashmir.
China and Pakistan's close ties are underpinned by long-standing wariness of their common neighbour, India, and a desire to hedge against U.S. influence in the region.
China is Pakistan's main supplier of conventional arms and analysts believe it supported Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme.
China helped Pakistan build its main nuclear power generation facility at Chashma. It also helped build the deep-sea Gwadar port on Pakistan's Arabian Sea coast, which would open up an energy and trade corridor to the Gulf, across Pakistan.
India and Pakistan, which claim Kashmir in full, have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since their independence from Britain in 1947.
India has very limited military ties with China, mainly focused on visits by respective military chiefs and government officials and ocassional war exercises.
India has plans to send troops to China next year for an annual bilateral army exercise called "Hand-in-Hand”.


Date created : 2010-08-27


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