Liang Guanglie's India visit part of efforts to ease tensions

Liang Guaglie

China's Defence Minister Gen Liang Guanglie's visit to India was part of stepped up diplomacy with neighbouring countries by Chinese military to reduce suspicion, enhance mutual trust and minimise miscalculations over territorial disputes, official media here reported today.

While Gen Liang, the first Chinese Defence Minister to visit India in eight years, arrived in Mumbai on Sunday, a delegation of People's Liberation Army led by Deputy Chief of Staff Gen Ma Xiaotian left on an official visit to Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore on a mission to improve ties.

China, which has an unresolved border dispute with India, also has territorial disputes with Vietnam and Malaysia over the South China Sea.

The flurry of diplomacy by PLA is conducive to reducing miscalculations amid recent territorial disputes and neighbours' concerns about China's military strength, state-run China Daily quoted officials as saying.

It said military and Foreign Ministry have conducted a number of intensive exchanges this year, with the emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region. PLA senior military officials have visited about 20 countries including United States.

China is increasingly using military diplomacy to supplement other exchanges, said Meng Xiangqing, deputy director of the Strategic Research Institute at the National Defence University of the PLA.

The central feature of Beijing's diplomacy is to create a secure region, but "it will not yield when sovereignty and territory are concerned", he said.

Wan Wei, a researcher at the Academy of Military Science of the PLA, said the purpose of Liang's visit to India is "crystal clear. It is a demonstration of goodwill since military ties between the two countries have witnessed twists and turns."

Liang's 23-member delegation includes Yang Jinshan, commander of the Tibet autonomous region's military district bordering India.

Fifteen rounds of high-level talks have been held in a bid to resolve the dispute about where the Himalayan border lies.

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