India and China have expressed readiness to resume high-level defence exchanges that have been put on “pause” after a senior Indian Army officer was offered a stapled Chinese visa, said informed sources here.
The sources were speaking to the media a few days ahead of a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Hanoi on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit comprising 10 Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) members and its partners, which include India and China.
“We have not cut military links. Flag meetings and border interactions are going on as usual. But certain high-level military exchanges have been out on hold till we work our way through this problem. Both sides want to resume the full range of defence exchanges. The Chinese have told us this several times,'' said the sources.
However, they said India wanted China to modify its stand on giving visas on a separate sheet of paper (stapled visas) instead of stamping them on the passport to Indians domiciled in Jammu and Kashmir. In the latest such case, Lt. Gen. S S Jaswal, who was to lead a high-level military delegation to China, was offered a stapled visa. “We say this is not acceptable,” said the sources.
Assurance on dams
Officials said China had “consistently” told India that it would not build big dams on rivers flowing into India. Information available with India shows that China has at the most built small dams and barrages. “There have been a number of articles in the Chinese press advocating big dams just like there are articles in India proposing the interlinking of rivers. The question is what is going to happen in future. Those discussions are best done at the technical level,” said the sources, while ruling out that it would come up at the Manmohan Singh-Wen Jiabao meeting.
On border talks, the sources said the two sides were planning a meeting of the Special Representatives “in the near future.” On the controversy over Arunachal Pradesh being shown as part of China in some maps, the sources said the media was demonstrating a “low sense of self-esteem.”
“We get upset when anyone comes out with a map like that. What is new in that? There is no need to feel fragile if someone draws a map. Don't give such issues the dignity they don't deserve. It is a different thing if there are changes on the ground,” said the sources.
India has also taken up “very strongly” with China its activities in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and its stance in general on Jammu and Kashmir. “China says it has not changed its stand. But we don't see it in practice. We are in the process of working on this,'' they said.