India opens huge aviation trade show
By Adam Plowright, AFPBANGALORE, India -- 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.
February 7, 2013, 11:38 am TWN
Air Vice Marshal Zheng Yuanlin was heading a five-person group at the five-day Aero India show after New Delhi extended a formal invitation to China in January.
“They've confirmed their attendance,” defense ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar told AFP late on Tuesday. “It's the first time India has invited a Chinese delegation from Beijing.”
The last Aero India in 2011 saw India initially snub China, 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 tends to stress the need for a partnership between Asia's two biggest nations.
India and China claim parts of each other's territory, while Beijing's military build-up along their frontier, as well as competing interests in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, are frequent sources of friction.
The two sides have held more than a dozen rounds of inconclusive talks to resolve their border disputes, which led to a brief war in 1962.
In a prelude to the decision to invite China to Aero India, they agreed to resume joint military exercises last September following the first visit of a Chinese defense minister to New Delhi in eight years.