China has taken in its stride, India’s decision “in principle” of signing a logistics support agreement with the United States, but signaled that the subject could be taken up during Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s visit to Beijing later this month.
“We have noted relevant reports on U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter’s visit to India,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in response to a question on Mr. Carter’s visit to India. In New Delhi, Mr. Parrikar announced that the two countries had agreed in principle to conclude a Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in the coming months, which will allow the two militaries to use each other assets for repair and replenishment.
‘ India also an influential country’
“India is also an influential country in the world, and India has been upholding independent diplomatic policy. India will make up its diplomatic policies based on its own interests,” Mr. Lu observed.
“India’s Defence Minister will visit China very soon,” the spokesperson observed without elaboration, referring to Mr. Parrikar’s two-day visit to Beijing, which commences on April 18.
Carter’s omission of China
Earlier China criticised Mr. Carter’s decision to drop Beijing from the itinerary of his Asia visit, which took him to India and the Philippines.
‘China military online,’ the website of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), paraphrased remarks by a “senior military researcher” as saying that Mr. Carter decided not to visit Beijing in order to “put pressure on China.” The portal also quoted Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, as saying that the cancellation of a planned visit is uncommon.
“Unless there are grave disputes”
“If the two sides have agreed on the visit earlier, it should not be changed unless there are grave disputes on major issues,” he observed.
In a written statement to China Daily , the Chinese Defence Ministry noted that Mr. Carter’s visit to China “has been listed in the plan for this year’s China-U.S. military exchanges. ... The defence authorities of the two countries have maintained normal communication and coordination over the concrete time of the visit.”
WSJ attributes it to SCS row
The website attributed comments to The Wall Street Journal , which said that Mr. Carter had dropped his plan to visit Beijing this month during his trip to India and the Philippines amid tensions between Beijing and Washington over the South China Sea issue.
It also referred to an AFP report which said that Mr. Carter’s decision to skip China was made just a few weeks ago. Mr. Carter “did officially accept an invitation to travel to China in the spring,” the report quoted Pentagon spokesman Bill Urban as saying.
Friction between defence establishments
There is growing friction between Chinese and the U.S. defence establishments after Mr. Carter, on Friday, rejected China’s concerns regarding the proposed deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile-defence system in South Korea.
The Defence Ministry said that the U.S. and the Republic of Korea should act prudently by not deploying the THAAD -- a system that is meant to defend against a North Korean missile attack, but, in Beijing’s perception, can also undermine China’s security interests.