After blocking a proposal to blacklist JeM chief Masood Azhar China is reaching out to India for closer defence cooperation. Beijing has suggested Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharama visit China in 2020

New Delhi: As the world attempts to corner China after its repeated efforts to shield Masood Azhar, the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief, in Bahawalpur and suitably protected by the Pakistan establishment, Beijing is reaching out to India for closer defence cooperation.

In Doklam, in 2017, the two armies were eyeball-to-eyeball for over two months: now the Chinese are asking for "mutual visits of working groups to discuss a hotline between the two defence ministries and another one at a "border level." Both sides have agreed in principle to having hotlines at different levels to ensure that border tensions do not go out of hand, but there has been no forward movement so far.

It isn't just that or even building up "Hand in Hand,' the joint exercise done at a modest level.

China has proposed the following:

1. China wants to send a delegation of senior armed forces officials to India and also, delegations of commanders of the Western theatre and also, of border troops, for discussions.

2. China has suggested that the Indian Defence Minister visit China in 2020 and has also requested that the chiefs of the army, navy and air force visit China. In the note verbale to India, China says that there should be a visit to China by Indian border troops and also, by Indian air force personnel. While a visit to China by the Indian Navy chief, Admiral Sunil Lanba, was being considered, it is unlikely to happen, high-level government sources said. Instead, a vice-admiral or a rear-admiral's visit is being talked about.

3. The Chinese have also called for visits by Indian warships to ports in China and vice-versa, and joint escort missions in the Indian Ocean area. This is primarily to counter pirates.

India is currently looking at the requests by China. Then, there will be a suitable response, sources said.