After Visa Freeze, India Hopes China Enables 'Continued Presence' of Indian Journalists

China had said that if India takes positive steps to “correct their mistakes” on the treatment of Chinese journalists, China would also remove the restrictions on visas of the two Indian journalists.

New Delhi: After China indicated that the suspension of visas for two Indian journalists was a “counter-measure”, India on Thursday hoped that Chinese authorities would facilitate the continued presence of Indian journalists in China.

On Tuesday, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs ‘froze” the visas of two Indian journalists reporting from China, The Hindu‘s Ananth Krishnan and state broadcaster Prasar Bharati’s Anshuman Mishra. The journalists, both presently in India, were informed that they will not be permitted to re-enter China.

In detailed remarks at the daily briefing in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said that Chinese journalists in India have faced “unfair and discriminatory treatment”, with visa validity periods reduced and applications for stationing in India denied since 2020.

“What is worse, in December 2021, a CGTN journalist stationed in India was asked by the Indian side, with no explanation till now, to leave the country within ten days when his visa was still valid for two months and his term would not end in half a year. 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.

Asserting that Indian journalists in China are treated well, she stated that they are granted a one-year residence permit, which allows for multiple entries and exits and protects their rights to interview and report. Journalists from PTI and Hindustan Times have been stationed in China for over a decade, Mao said.

Stating that China’s concerns over Chinese journalists’ visas in India have been ignored by the Indian side, Mao said, “Considering this, the Chinese side has no choice but to take appropriate counter-measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese media organisations.”

She indicated that if India takes positive steps to “correct their mistakes”, China would also remove the restrictions on visas of the two Indian journalists.

A few hours later, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs dismissed the concerns expressed by the Chinese diplomat.

“So there are Chinese journalists who have valid Indian visas for pursuing journalist activities in India. So from that perspective, we do not see any limitations or difficulties in reporting or doing media coverage,” said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.

He added that India was in touch with the Chinese side on the change of visa status for the Indian journalists.

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

Bagchi stated that he does not wish to discuss specific cases or information about individuals, as it would not be appropriate as other agencies were involved.

When asked about the number of Chinese journalists present in India, he suggested asking the Chinese side as he is unsure of their exact whereabouts.