China Wednesday joined the nearly two-decade old Aero India air show for first time, with its Ambassador Zhang Yan leading a delegation after a last-minute invitation from New Delhi.
China was not invited to the show initially, but after media reports in this regard, the Defense Ministry last week changed its stance and sent the invitation to China, asking it to send a delegation and a journalist based in New Delhi to the five-day event.
Zhang Yan visited the air show and went around the stalls. He also met Defense Minister Arackaparambil Kurian Antony and conveyed his appreciation for the ‘impressive’ show.
The Defense Ministry did not send the invite to China in consultation with the External Affairs Ministry when the air show was in the planning stages.
The decision was, however, reversed last week after a Chinese journalist raised the issue at a press conference addressed by Defense Production Secretary Raj Kumar Singh.
A Chinese journalist Wednesday raised the issue of difficulties in getting accreditation to cover the show, after insisting she ‘deserved’ to ask a question, following which Antony instructed a Defense Ministry official to facilitate her work.
She also asked Antony on the future of Sino-Indian ties, to which he replied that despite some difficulties on the border dispute front, the
relation between the two neighbors was by and large friendly. He also noted that China has been India’s largest trading partner in recent years.
The journalist was later seen being mobbed by local media looking for interviews and more details about the late invitation.