China defends move to freeze visas of 2 Indian journalists

The row over journalists' visas has emerged as a new irritant between India, China amid ongoing border row
Last Updated 06 April 2023, 22:14 IST

Accusing New Delhi of unfairly treating journalists from China, Beijing on Thursday defended its recent move to freeze the visas of two mediapersons from India.

New Delhi, however, dismissed the allegation and urged Beijing to continue to facilitate journalists from India so that they could continue to stay in and report from China.

Even as the three-year-long military stand-off along the disputed boundary in eastern Ladakh took the India-China relations to a new low, the row over visas for journalists posted in each other’s capitals has emerged as a new irritant between the two neighbours.

Beijing recently froze the visas of two journalists who cover China for media outlets in India. The journalists, including one representing public service broadcaster Prasar Bharati, were in India when officials of the Chinese government called them and informed them they should not return to China till any further decision on the status of their visas.

“Chinese journalists have suffered unfair and discriminatory treatment in India for a long time,” China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mao Ning said in Beijing on Thursday.

“In 2017, the Indian side shortened the period of validity of visas held by Chinese journalists in India to three months or even one month without any valid reason. Since 2020, the Indian side has refused to review and approve Chinese journalists’ applications for stationing in India,” she alleged.

Mao said that a journalist of the China Global Television Network stationed in India had been asked, “without any explanation”, by New Delhi in 2020 to leave the country within ten days although his visa was still valid for two more months.

“A few days ago, the Indian side asked a journalist of the Xinhua News Agency to leave the country by March 31, citing the reason that he had been in the country for six years,” she said.

However, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) denied the allegations.

“There are Chinese journalists who have valid Indian visas for pursuing journalistic activities in India. So, from that perspective, we don't see any limitations or difficulties in reporting or doing media coverage," MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in New Delhi.

"As regards to Indian journalists working in China, we would hope that Chinese authorities would facilitate their continued presence and reporting from China.”

(Published 06 April 2023, 13:01 IST)

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