India conveys concern to China over presence in PoK

India conveys concern to China over presence in PoK

Beijing: India on Friday conveyed its concern to China over its “activity and presence" in Gilgit-Baltistan Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir region in the backdrop of reports that up to 11,000 Chinese troops had moved in there.

Just back from New Delhi where he briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other members of the cabinet committee on security, Indian ambassador to China S Jaishankar met Chinese vice minister for foreign affairs Zhang Zhijun to convey these concerns.

The Chinese minister told the Ambassador that Chinese personnel were present in PoK to render “humanitarian assistance" to the flood-affected people in the region, sources in the Indian Embassy said.

The two also discussed a number of other issues concerning improvement of bilateral ties, the sources said but declined to elaborate.

Following a report in ‘The New York Times’ of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) presence in PoK, India had said it was independently verifying the matter which it dubbed as “serious, if true".

“If true, it would be a matter of serious concern and we would do all that is necessary to ensure safety and security of the nation," external affairs ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash had said on Monday when asked to comment on the reports.

These reports represent the latest in a series of irritants stemming out of Chinese actions in recent weeks including denial of visa to Lt Gen B S Jaswal, chief of Indian army’s north command, by China apparently on the ground that he headed troops in Jammu and Kashmir, which Beijing considers a disputed territory.

India has already put on hold defence exchanges with China. But Beijing said it has not yet received any official communication from India and its defence ties with New Delhi are intact.

Indian officials regard China’s policy of issuing stapled visas to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir since last year as a big stumbling block in the path of improvement of bilateral ties.

But the Chinese appeared to be unmoved with Jiang describing Jammu and Kashmir state as “India-controlled- Kashmir" as against her terming Gilgit-Baltistan as “Northen part of Pakistan".

“About our visa policy toward inhabitants in the Indian controlled Kashmir region, the policy is consistent and stayed unchanged," Jiang said in her press briefing on Thursday.

She also denied the reports about Chinese troop presence in PoK, saying that it is a fabricated story aimed at destroying China’s relations with Pakistan and India.

Prior to that, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Masood Khan too denied the report saying that only a Chinese humanitarian assistance team was present in the area to assist the victims of the recent floods.