Members of The Flying Bulls aerobatics team from the Czech Republic fly in formation in their Zlin Z-50 aircraft during Aero India 2013 at the Yelahanka Air Force station in Bangalore on February 6, 2013. India, the world's leading importer of weaponry, opened one of Asia's biggest aviation trade shows Wednesday with Western suppliers eyeing lucrative deals and a Chinese delegation attending for the first time. — AFP Photo

BANGALORE: India welcomed a senior Chinese delegation from Beijing for the first time at its air show on Wednesday even as the country's defence minister warned of a military build up on their border.

Air Vice Marshal Zheng Yuanlin headed a five-person Chinese group at the Aero India show in Bangalore after New Delhi extended its first invitation to China in January.

The move came after a decision last September to resume joint military exercises following the first visit of a Chinese defence minister to New Delhi in eight years.

“It is a welcome step, even though we have long pending border issues,” Defence Minister A.K. Antony told reporters. “We are trying to improve relations in all areas.”

The last Aero India in 2011 saw New Delhi snub China again along with arch-rival Pakistan amid a spike in tensions, but the Chinese ambassador in New Delhi was allowed to attend in a negotiated compromise.

Suspicion of China runs deep in the Indian military and hawkish comments from senior commanders often conflict with the political leadership, which stresses the need for a partnership between Asia's two biggest nations.

Antony said that a border management agreement signed by the countries had helped reduce tensions on the frontier between Tibet and northeastern Indian states, but he warned about a military build up.

“They are reinforcing infrastructure in a big way... The government of India is bound to modernise our armed forces. Strengthening our border by way of infrastructure by putting more assets there is our duty,” he said.

“This is not for a confrontation, but at the same time we must be ready to face any eventuality.”

He also said that New Delhi was concerned by Pakistan's decision last month to hand over the management of a strategically located deep-sea port in the Arabian Sea to China.

Pakistan transferred the Gwadar port on January 30 from a Singapore company to China, which provided most of the funding to build the facility in the province of Balochistan.

“In one sentence, it is a matter of concern for us,” Antony said.

China has been extending its influence with traditional allies of New Delhi around the Indian Ocean as well as in neighbouring Pakistan, where it is the country's main arms supplier.

India and China claim parts of each other's territory, while competing interests in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean are frequent sources of friction.

Military cooperation was called off in 2010 after a row when China refused a visa to an Indian commander stationed in the disputed region of Kashmir.

The two sides have held more than a dozen rounds of inconclusive talks to resolve their border disputes, which led to a brief but bitter war in 1962.

Much of India's huge military modernisation – it is the world's biggest arms importer, according to monitors – and its expanding long-range missile programme is seen as partly in response to China's rise.

The Indian military has traditionally seen neighbour Pakistan as its biggest foe after three wars since independence in 1947.

But as India's economic interests spread geographically, Indian leaders see the need to be able to project force further afield while also defending against any future threat from Pakistan or China.

Updated Feb 06, 2013 11:45am

Comments (20) (Closed)

Feb 06, 2013 09:56pm
India is suspicious about China how about India controlling Bangladesh,Sri Lanka,Nepal,Afghanistan,and more China has as much wright that India has India is always blocking Pakistan growth wants to control Pakistan like all these small counties around him India like to control not only Asia but they wants to have the rest of the world on India Mersey that is not possible India wants to make friction between China and Pakistan friend ship for a long time that is not going to happen because China is the only Pakistan true friend we do not trust India for example,Baluchistan,Karachi,Attack on Sri lankan cricket team who is responsible for all these things (RAW) we grant India the (MFN) over and above every country but what we get in return from India is that they block our cotton in Europe there cricket team don,t comes to Pakistan in the end the Indians call us the terrorist China never put us down like India do that tell us who is our Friend and who is our enemies.
Raja Parekh
Feb 07, 2013 10:39am
No harm in dreaming! In order to achieve something one has to dream first. In this cruel world, mighty one have peace. Weak nations and persons just give lectures of peace but they don't achieve.
Feb 08, 2013 07:18am
@sraz45 that's the difference between us and you.we always believe in unity in diversity and you always believe in something nonsense.
raja hindustani
Feb 06, 2013 05:04pm
dont spoil dawn...!!!
Feb 06, 2013 01:04pm
Its unfortunate our neighboring brothers Pakistan(Aman ki Asha) didn't participate in the event hopefully next time they may participate.
Feb 06, 2013 12:18pm
Too much suspicion, too much reading in between the lines .I think it was an innocent visit. Why cant neighbours visit each other.
Asif Kahsmiri
Feb 06, 2013 12:04pm
Azaadi Azaaadi Azaaaaadi IN SHAHA ALLAH.
Feb 06, 2013 07:12pm
This is too much of bankruptcy in thoughts and wishes by Pakistan. Why does Pakistan think that India and China cannot be friends? India and China already trade much more than any other bilateral country other than US-China. Chinese have historically had a close cultural link with India until Muslim invaders came and leading destroyed Buddhist universities such as Nalanda, Taxillia, etc and other religious places.
Md Imran
Feb 06, 2013 01:52pm
India can only dream of competing with Pakistan and China..easier and a peaceful resolution for the entire region would be to disarm and dismantle the Indian military
Feb 07, 2013 04:53pm
Ha Ha good joke :)
Feb 06, 2013 11:19pm
Be careful about what you demand for you might get it
Ram Krishan Sharma
Feb 07, 2013 01:09am
Next Life
Feb 07, 2013 02:51am
Are you kidding, recently at the Jaipur book and writers festival, even Pakistani diplomats were not given permission to attend, why because India had a change of heart. That is such a child like behavior. How can you expect Pakistan to attend such an event. India is an old entity yet It was never one country politically, till the Muslims arrived and got the 250 riasats to stop fighting amongst themselves over various gods destroying each other's deities The Muslims congealed it into a country, its present state, which took 300 years, was taken over by the British they farther consolidated it,that is present day India minus Pakistan and Bangladesh. However it still behaves like there are kingdoms even today, Pakistan is treated like one which does not care and has a mind of its own, that is why it went its own way. Think for a moment. All these past 66 years India has tried to dismantle Pakistan by subversion. Pakistan isn't going anywhere learn to live with it that will be good for both. Don't treat it like a runaway riasat.
Feb 07, 2013 03:09am
And how will your life change after that? What will you do different that you can't do now?
Feb 07, 2013 03:42am
Granted! now get up
Feb 07, 2013 04:05am
Friendly neighbors only will earn that privilege.
Feb 07, 2013 05:23am
@asif. very right.Azadi from pakistan
Feb 07, 2013 05:26am
Forget about Azadi. It's a mirage and never going to happen
Feb 07, 2013 06:16am
Night time over. Good morning.
Feb 07, 2013 06:13pm
Off your meds again?? Paranoid rants dont help anyone.