Journalists’ visa issue: Chinese media warns India of repercussions

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Taking umbrage at India’s refusal to extend visas to three Chinese journalists, a state-run daily today warned of “serious consequences” if New Delhi was”taking revenge” for China’s refusal to back its NSG membership bid.

“speculation is swirling that India is taking revenge against China for the latter’s opposition to India joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)… If New Delhi is really taking revenge due to the NSG membership issue, there will be serious consequences,” the Global Times said in an editorial titled ‘India’s expulsion of reporters is a petty act’.

Three Chinese journalists based in India representing the state-run Xinhua news agency were denied permission for extended stay in the country.

The visas of the three journalists, Delhi-based Bureau Chief Wu Qiang and two reporters in Mumbai – Tang Lu and Ma Qiang, are expiring at the end of this month. All three had sought extension of their stay by a few months till their successors arrive.

India’s act was described as an “expulsion” by some foreign media, the editorial said.

“No official reason was given for the rejection of the visa renewals. Some Indian media claimed that the three journalists are suspected of impersonating other people to access several restricted departments in Delhi and Mumbai with fake names. There were also reports attributing it to the journalists’ meeting with exiled Tibetan activists,” it said.

Quoting its former Indian correspondent Lu Pengfei, the newspaper said there is “absolutely no need” for Chinese journalists in India to conduct interviews under fake names and it is completely normal for reporters to request interviews with the Dalai Lama group.

“The act has sent negative messages and media communications between China and India will inevitably be negatively impacted,” the editorial said.

It claimed that by opposing India’s NSG membership, China was not being disrespectful because it was obeying the rule that all NSG members are required to be signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“India has a suspicious mind. No matter whether Chinese reporters apply for a long-term or a temporary journalist visa, they will come across many troubles. Complaints about difficulties of acquiring an Indian visa have also been heard from other Chinese who deal with India. In contrast, it’s much easier for Indians to get a Chinese visa.

“On the visa issue this time, we should take action to display our reaction. We at least should make a few Indians feel Chinese visas are also not easy to get,” it said. However, the editorial also pitched for maintaining friendly Sino-India ties.

“The China-India bilateral relationship now is on a sound track, with a by and large tranquil border and steadily booming trade. The two in general are able to maintain neutrality with regard to international affairs that are related to the other side,” it said.

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