NEW DELHI — India protested on Thursday China’s practice to continue to issue separate visas that are stapled onto passports of Indian citizens from the northeastern Arunachal Pradesh state, which China claims to be part of its South Tibet.
Three members of an Indian sports team set to compete at the World University Games this week in China were denied regular visas – which are stamped onto passports – by the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi.
Instead, they got their visas stapled to a page in their passports. For India, that presents a problem because if it sends athletes with stapled visas to China, it would imply accepting China‘s claim on the territory.
There was no immediate comment from Beijing but China has insisted the decision to issue stapled visas does not undermine its position on the disputed territory.
“This is unacceptable, and we have lodged our strong protest with the Chinese side reiterating our consistent position on the matter. India reserves the right to suitably respond to such action,” India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi told reporters.
The three players were to depart for Chengdu, China, on Thursday night. The Indian government asked the entire Indian team – including those who received regular visas – to put their travel plans on hold, Indian media reported. The Indian team for World University Games is being sent by the Association of Indian Universities.
In 2011, the Chinese Embassy issued stapled visas to five karate players from Arunachal Pradesh state for a championship in the Chinese city of Quanghou. In 2013, two young archers were stopped from taking part in the Youth World Archery Championship for the same reason.
On the ground, the so-called Line of Actual Control separates Chinese and Indian-held territories, from the region of Ladakh in the west to India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims in its entirety. India and China fought a war over their border in 1962.
In recent years, soldiers from both sides have patrolled areas along the disputed border. Opposing soldiers often come into contact and the two Asian giants have accused each other of sending troops into the other’s territory.
In June 2020, a clash in the Karakoram mountains in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh sparked tensions after soldiers fought with stones, fists and clubs. At least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed. Both countries stationed tens of thousands of troops backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along their de facto border.
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