China’s highest ranking defence officer will visit India next month, the first in a decade as the PLA seeks to expand relations with the Indian military and increase mutual trust along the border amid a series of incursions by Chinese soldiers. General Fan Changlong, Vice Chairman of the China’s Military Commission, will visit India and Pakistan in the middle of November, Chinese defence spokesman, Senior Colonel Yang Yujun said at a media briefing here today.
These visits are regarded as part of Chinese military’s efforts to expand ties with its Indian counterpart and solidify close defence cooperation with close ally Pakistan’s armed forces. The purpose of the visit is to implement the consensus reached between the political leadership of the two countries and enhance friendship and mutual cooperation between China and the two countries, Yang said. While Fan’s visit to Pakistan is seen as an attempt to solidify relations in the backdrop of China’s USD 46 billion investment in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, his visit to India comes at a time when New Delhi and Beijing have made efforts to improve defence ties. Fan is the highest uniformed official whose rank is above that of the Defence Minister in China’s military hierarchy.
The CMC is the over arching body of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), headed by President Xi Jinping who also heads the military and the ruling Communist Party of China (CMC). Indian officials say that in his three-day visit, Fan will hold talks with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and other top defence officials. A host of issues will be discussed including efforts by both sides to improve relations between the troops deployed along the disputed border in the backdrop of a number of tense standoffs.
The Chinese general’s visit to India comes in the immediate backdrop of a meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) which since 2012 is focusing on resolving the tense standoffs arising out of Chinese troops’ incursions into areas on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The standoffs began before the visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India as his first overseas destination soon after he took over the post in 2013 as a goodwill gesture.
The standoff in which Chinese troops pitched tents in Depsang area in Ladakh continued for several days before they withdrew.