The Indian government on Sunday surprised Chinese citizens by announcing the suspension of their tourist visas. The decision followed China’s ban on hundreds of students from India, who so far are unable to continue their studies or work there.
According to The Times of India, India’s decision to restrict the Chinese population came after China prevented 20,000 Indian students from returning to the Asian country in March 2021.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported on April 19 that “Tourist visas issued to national China are no longer valid.”
It also added a list of visas that are eligible to enter India,
- Citizens of Bhutan, India, Maldives, and Nepal;
- Passengers with a residence permit issued by India;
- Passengers with a visa or e-visa issued by India;
- Passengers with an Indian Overseas Citizen Card (OCI);
- Passengers with a Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card;
- Passengers with a diplomatic passport.
India reinstated tourist visas for 156 countries worldwide, leaving out China.
IATA clarified that tourist visas valid for 10 years are no longer valid except for the United States and Japan.
China justified its stance because it wanted to restrict all students to control the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. However, at the same time, China allowed students from other countries such as Pakistan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and the Solomon Islands to re-enter the Asian country but did not lift the ban on India.
Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, on learning of the situation last month, immediately contacted Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. But he got no response from Wang, according to NDTV.
“I took up strongly the predicament of Indian students studying in China who have not been allowed to return, citing Covid restrictions. We hope that China will take a non-discriminatory approach since it involves the future of so many young people,” Jaishankar said at a media briefing shortly after the talks.
Yang Jinsong of the China Tourism Academy called India’s restriction “meaningless” because “there are hardly any Chinese tourists going to India these days,” Global Times reported.
According to The Times of India, India deepened its concern for thousands of students studying in Chinese universities, including 23,000 enrolled in medical degree programs, in 2019.
Indian students commented that their student status hangs in the balance because, although class attendance can be done online, students have difficulty logging on because most Chinese mobile apps are banned in India and are complicated for them to access due to technical problems.
But a long-standing conflict still lingers in the minds of some Chinese and Indian officials, making relations between the two countries at times tense. It is the de facto border between China and India, where the most serious incident in 45 years between the two Asian powers took place in 2020, reported BBC.
In the disputed territory of the Ladakh region, in a clash with Chinese soldiers in the Galdwan Valley, troops on both sides were killed in bloody hand-to-hand fighting.
The disputed territory is located in the Himalayan Mountains, which is of interest to the two powers in terms of nuclear strategies and is delineated by the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Ananth Krishnan, a journalist for The Hindu newspaper specializing in foreign relations, explained that neither country has a specific delimitation that represents the LAC. For this reason, each side is waiting for a resolution of the border dispute.
To this day, China and India continue to disagree on the boundary set by the British colonial administrators of India.
Following the terrible incident in April 2020 on the disputed border, Wang Yi, China’s Foreign Minister visited New Delhi on March 25, 2022, and met with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, NDTV reported.
Summing up the outcome of his talks in New Delhi with Chinese official media, Wang said it was important to achieve a consensus that the two countries are not threats to each other. On the contrary, there are opportunities for each other’s development to be reached by the two heads of state.
For his part, Jaishankar said at a press conference following the talks that if both sides are committed to improving ties, this commitment should find “full expression” and that relations should be within the framework of mutual respect and interests.
But Jaishankar was candid in describing the situation with China as “not normal” and that it is still a “work in progress,” also explaining that India-China relations have been “disturbed” since the conflict with China in April 2020