In an apparent tit-for-tat move, China “froze” the visas of two Indian journalists based in Beijing, telling them not to return to China, Indian media reported on Wednesday.
English daily The Hindu said that its Beijing correspondent and state-run Prasar Bharati correspondent, both of whom are presently in India, have been informed by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday that they should not return to China as their journalistic visas had been “frozen.”
The report also said that two other Indian journalists who are at present in China, have been informed that the Chinese Foreign Ministry (MFA) "is considering its options" and “countermeasures” against "what it claims is India’s unfair treatment of Chinese journalists."
According to the report, China is demanding more visas for its correspondents to cover India and wants the current visa tenures, which have to be renewed every three months, to be increased to 12-month visas, "as the Chinese MFA provides Indian journalists with year-long visas."
Indian Ministry of External Affairs is yet to issue a statement about the matter.
Another Indian daily The Hindustan Times, which also has a reporter in China, said the move of barring two Indian journalists by China followed "the Indian side informing a New Delhi-based correspondent of state-run Xinhua news agency last month that his Indian visa would not be renewed.” It said that the Xinhua correspondent was asked to return to China by March 31 and he has since gone back.
The fresh development took place as India and China engaged in a fresh verbal duel over their territorial claims in the Indian northeastern province of Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing refers to as the southern part of the Tibetan autonomous region.
Since May 2020, the two countries have been locked in a standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) – the de facto border between China and India in the Ladakh area of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region.
In June 2020, at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed in a border clash.