Fresh off a crackdown on independent journalism in China, Beijing is lashing out at India for refusing to renew the visas of three journalists from China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua.
As the New York Times reports, there are suspicions in China that India is retaliating for the Chinese defeat of India’s attempt to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group last month. The United States supported India’s membership. There have also been some tense confrontations with the Chinese military in the disputed Kashmir region.
“No matter whether Chinese reporters apply for a long-term or a temporary journalist visa, they will come across many troubles. Complaints about difficulties of acquiring an Indian visa have also been heard from other Chinese who deal with India. In contrast, it is much easier for Indians to get a Chinese visa,” complained China’s Global Times, as cited by The Hindu.
The Indian government countered that the journalists’ visas actually expired four months ago, and a routine decision was made to deny any further short-term extensions. It has also been suggested that the Chinese journalists got in trouble with the Indian government for using fake names or for meeting with Tibetan activists in exile.
Opinions among Indian observers are mixed, with some viewing the journalist expulsion as an unwise, petty measure unlikely to achieve anything except annoying the Chinese. Others thought the Indian government should take even firmer measures to express its displeasure with China, while there were also calls for India to back down from confrontation and improve what commentator Shekhar Gupta described as a “carefully managed” relationship dating back to the 1980s.
NDTV reports Chinese media is warning India of “serious consequences” for the expulsion of the Xinhua reporters, particularly if it can be established that it was an act of revenge for the Nuclear Suppliers Group situation.
The three Xinhua reporters have been told to leave India by the end of the month. The Indian government has said that Xinhua can send other journalists in their place.