Another diplomatic low is witnessed in the bilateral relations of India and China. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reportedly decided to “freeze” the visas of two Indian journalists based in Beijing – The Hindu‘s Ananth Krishnan and Prasar Bharati’s Anshuman Mishra. Both Mishra and Krishnan had recently come to India for personal reasons.
The Hindu’s correspondent was stopped at the airport and questioned by Chinese authorities for almost 30 minutes while he was returning to India on March 31.
The move followed the Indian side informing a New Delhi-based correspondent of the state-run Xinhua news agency last month that his Indian visa would not be renewed. The Xinhua correspondent was asked to return to China by March 31 and has since gone back, according to the report.
This is indicating that more “counter measures” could follow against other Indian journalists unless New Delhi offers reciprocal visa and tenure terms to Chinese journalists in India.
Meanwhile, two other journalists belonging to the news agency PTI and the Hindustan Times, currently in China, have been informed by the MFA that they could stay on for now even as it is considering its options and “counter measures” against what it claims is India’s unfair treatment of Chinese journalists.
China is reportedly demanding more visas for its correspondents to cover India. It is also asking for current visa tenures, which need to be renewed every three months, to be increased to 12-month visas, as the Chinese MFA provides Indian journalists with year-long visas.
The number of Chinese journalists in India, all working for state-run organisations, was at a high of 14 about seven years ago. In July 2016, India expelled three journalists from Xinhua, including the organisation’s bureau chiefs in New Delhi and Mumbai, after they came under the “adverse attention of security agencies” for allegedly indulging in activities beyond their journalistic brief.
The MEA declined to comment formally on the move. However, sources denied that India had taken any action against Chinese journalists in the recent past.
They said that many Chinese reporters based in Delhi had left during the Covid pandemic and not returned, and it was “factually incorrect” to suggest any “measures” that merited “counter-measures” had been employed against them, according to The Hindu report.
A few years ago, there were six Indian journalists working in Beijing, but this number subsequently came down to four. The matter is reportedly now being discussed between the Indian Embassy in Beijing and the Chinese MFA.
It is pertinent to mention that in the last 48 hours, India has faced unusual activities from the Chinese end, clearly showing that all is not well between the two and not nearing any middle ground. The rocky relationship is nowhere near stabilisation for now.