New Delhi: In March, China began allowing foreigners – including Indians – to the country for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. But just a month later, Beijing and New Delhi began freezing out each others’ journalists – a process that is now virtually complete, according to the Wall Street Journal.
After India asked a Chinese journalist with the Xinhua News Agency to leave the country by March 31, the Chinese side responded by freezing the visas of three Indian journalists.
According to the Wall Street Journal, apart from the Xinhua journalist, a reporter for another state media outlet – China Central Television – was also asked to leave. These were the last two Chinese reporters in the country, the report said. This is the first time since at least the 1980s that there are no Chinese state media reporters in India.
The WSJ report was published hours after the Chinese Embassy said on Tuesday, May 30, that visas have been granted to 60,000 Indians this year “for purposes of business, study, tourist, work, family reunion, etc”.
In the first 5 months of this year, the Chinese Embassy and Consulates General have issued over 60000 visas to Indian people traveling to China for purposes of business, study, tourist, work, family reunion etc. Welcome to China.
— Wang Xiaojian (@ChinaSpox_India) May 30, 2023
“The presence of more journalists from China in India would help to bridge the gap between the two countries and foster a deeper understanding of each other’s cultures and perspectives,” Wang Zichen, a former Chinese state media reporter who now works for a think tank, told WSJ. “This, in turn, could lead to a reduction in hostility and a more peaceful resolution to the border dispute,” he added.
The report added that India has increasingly limited the duration of stay for Chinese journalists, referring to the 2016 expulsion of three Xinhua journalists. A Chinese state television reporter was “unexpectedly ordered to leave India within 10 days” in December 2022 without any explanation, the Chinese foreign ministry said, according to WSJ.
Tensions between India and China have been on the boil since the deadly military clash between the armies of the two nations along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh. India has reiterated several times that normal relations with China cannot be restored if peace and tranquillity in the border areas are disturbed.