China on Wednesday acknowledged there were “difficulties” in defence ties with India but noted improvement following the visit of a military delegation from India here last week.
“Last year, Sino-Indian military exchanges experienced some difficulties, but ... both sides worked hard to find a good way of resolving this,” Defence Ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun told reporters on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
“Both sides said that they were willing to work hard together to ensure peace and tranquility on the border and further promote exchanges between their militaries,” he said of last week's visit, which marked the resumption in defence exchanges after almost one year.
An eight-member delegation, led by Major-General Gurmeet Singh, concluded week-long talks with the People's Liberation Army's leadership on Saturday, following a visit to Beijing, Urumqi — the capital city of the western frontier Xinjiang region — and Shanghai.
Indian officials described the visit to The Hindu as productive and successful.
Defence exchanges were suspended by India last July, after China objected to issuing a visa to the head of the Northern Command saying the “sensitive region” of Kashmir was under his control. The refusal was linked to their recent policy of issuing stapled visas to Indian citizens from Jammu and Kashmir.
India agreed to resume ties following Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to China to attend the BRICS summit in Sanya, in Hainan province. Indian officials cited a toning down of the stapled visa policy and willingness to host officials from the Northern Command, though of a lower rank, as being behind the decision to resume ties.
South China Sea
On Wednesday, Mr. Yang of the Defence Ministry also sought to allay concerns of China's neighbours over the recent tensions in the South China Sea, with both Vietnam and the Philippines recently clashing with China and accusing the country's Navy of more assertive patrolling near disputed islands.
“We hope that relevant countries can put regional peace and stability at the forefront and do more to benefit regional peace and stability,” he was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying.
“The peace and stability of the South China Sea accords with the common interests of all countries in the Asia Pacific, including China and the United States.”
He said China's recent naval drills were “routine and planned annually and have no connection with the situation at present in the South China Sea”.