BEIJING, China – An Indian general led a delegation to Beijing on Sunday as the two countries moved to resume exchanges between their militaries after a yearlong freeze.
Maj. Gen. Gurmeet Singh and seven accompanying officers arrived in Beijing on Sunday for a weeklong visit that will also include meetings with Chinese counterparts and stops in the business and shipping hub of Shanghai and the far-northwestern territory of Xinjiang.
Such exchanges were suspended by India last year in protest over China’s decision to issue visas to Indians from disputed Kashmir in the form of a document stapled into their passports rather than a stamp.
The decision appeared to question the legitimacy of Indian rule in Kashmir and was considered a concession to Pakistan, India’s arch rival with which China maintains close ties.
The Press Trust of India news agency said the two sides decided to resume military exchanges following talks between Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a meeting of large developing economies this spring.
PTI said China appeared to have resumed stamping the passports of visitors from Kashmir, although it wasn’t clear if that was an official change of policy.
Kashmir was split between India and Pakistan when they gained independence from Britain in 1947.
Military trust-building exchanges are important for the two countries because they share a long, disputed border high in the Himalayas. They fought a brief but bloody border war in 1962 and successive rounds of talks to settle the border have made little progress while both sides have bolstered their military presence there.
China’s navy has also extended its range of operations to the Indian Ocean, increasing potential interaction between the countries. China’s close military ties with Pakistan as well as Sri Lanka and other South Asian and Southeast Asian states generate considerable anxiety in India.
New Delhi has also complained that Chinese troops along the border have grown more aggressive. China last year said it held its first live-fire joint ground and air drills on the Tibetan plateau.