Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense General Li Shangfu reportedly arrived in India on Thursday to start a two-day visit and attend a defense ministers' meeting among members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), with experts expecting positive outcomes in enhancing security cooperation.
Li arrived in New Dehli on Thursday for the SCO defense ministers' meeting scheduled to be held on Friday, Indian news outlet NDTV reported. He is also expected to have a bilateral meeting with Rajnath Singh, the Indian defense minister, the report said.
The Chinese defense chief's India visit was announced by the Chinese Ministry of National Defense on Tuesday. In a press release, the ministry said Li had been invited to attend the meeting in New Delhi from Thursday to Friday.
Li will address the conference and meet with the heads of delegations from relevant countries to communicate and exchange views on international and regional issues as well as defense and security cooperation, according to the Chinese Defense Ministry.
This is the first time a Chinese defense minister has visited India since the China-India border standoff in May 2020, observers said.
Shortly before the SCO meeting, China and India held the 18th round of Corps Commander Level Meeting on Sunday, in which the two sides had a friendly and candid exchange of views on relevant issues and agreed to maintain close contact and dialogue through military and diplomatic channels, speed up the settlement of relevant issues on the western section of the China-India boundary, and continue to safeguard peace and tranquility in the border areas, the Chinese Defense Ministry said in a press release on Tuesday.
Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times that the 18th round of military meeting between China and India built up a suitable political atmosphere for India to host the SCO annual summit for the first time since it gained membership in 2017.
A bilateral meeting between Chinese and Indian defense ministers would be a good chance for the two sides to enhance consensus and narrow differences, and to restart defense cooperation that has been hindered by the border standoff and the COVID-19 pandemic over the past few years, Qian said.
With fewer contradictions between them, the SCO meeting will hopefully achieve more satisfying results, particularly under this year's complex international situation, Qian said.
Citing India's defense ministry, the Hindustan Times reported on Wednesday that the defense ministers will discuss matters related to regional peace and security, counterterrorism efforts within the SCO, and effective multilateralism.
The militaries of SCO members have vast cooperation potential in non-traditional security fields such as counterterrorism, disaster relief, humanitarian aid and anti-epidemic work, as well as safeguarding regional peace and stability, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday.
They could also work together to prevent spillover effects from instability in neighboring countries and regions, the expert said.