Both sides accuse each other of “unfair” treatment meted to their journos
Delhi Crown Bureau
New Delhi: Amid the ongoing visas’ row over Indian and Chinese journalists in each other’s country, spokesman of India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Arindam Bagchi on Friday said that Indian journalists posted in China are not permitted to hire locals as correspondents or reporters, whereas it’s totally free in India for the Chinese journalists posted here.
He also said that Indian journalists working in China face “certain restrictions” while getting access and travelling locally within China. “Indian side supports and facilitates foreign journalists in India,” he added.
“Indian journalists in China face certain restrictions while getting access and travelling locally within China. Indian side supports and facilitates foreign journalists in India. At the same time there should no deviation from normal journalistic behaviour and activities or from the provisions governing journalists’ visas. We would hope that Chinese authorities facilitate the continued presence of Indian journalists in working and reporting from China. The two sides continue to remain in touch regarding this issue,” Bagchi told media persons in Delhi on Friday (June 2).
The MEA spokesman was responding to questions raised by journalists at the weekly briefing regarding the visa issues faced by two Chinese journalists posted in Delhi. The visas of both the journalists had expired, following which both applied for extension of visas, but it (extension) is still awaited.
According to reliable sources, the journalist belonging to “CCTV” of the China Media Group (CMG) left India last week after his visa had expired, while another Chinese journalist who works for Xinhua news agency is still present in Delhi awaiting his visa-extension for nearly a month.
This is perhaps for the first time in India-China bilateral history when only one Chinese journalist is operating in India, even as the federal government has adopted a strict visa policy for the Chinese journalists.
Two days ago the “Wall Street Journal” had reported that China and India had ejected nearly all of each other’s journalists in recent weeks. Citing people familiar with the matter, the newspaper had reported that India had this month declined to renew the visas of the last two Chinese state media journalists (present in India).
To questions raised over the media report, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning had stated – “Chinese reporters had been treated unfairly in India for years. What I can tell you is that for a long time, Chinese journalists have suffered unfair and discriminatory treatment in India. And, in 2017 the Indian side shortened the visa validity of Chinese journalists to three months or even one month for no reason.”
Mao further told journalists in Beijing that the visa of the last Chinese correspondent in India had expired. “In the face of this prolonged and unreasonable suppression by the Indian side, the Chinese side had to take appropriate countermeasures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese media,” she added.
Mao also stated that the status of Indian journalists in China would depend on India’s “support” for Chinese journalists.
The two Asian giants have been uneasy neighbours for decades following a war in 1962 on their disputed Himalayan frontier. Their relations deteriorated in mid-2020 when their troops clashed on the border and 24 people were killed. This year, China ramped up tension by renaming 11 locations in India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls “South Tibet” and claims it to be its territory.
Fortunately not even one gunshot has been fired from either side at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the international border between the two sides, since the 1962 war.
Only two days the 27th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China Border Affairs. At the meeting, both sides agreed to hold the 19th round of high-level military talks at an early date to achieve the objective of restoration of peace and tranquility in the border areas.