India seeks ‘essential two-way travel’ to China, raises concern over denial of visas


An Indian and Chinese flags at FlagSource workshop in Mumbai | Photo: Dhiraj Singh | Bloomberg


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New Delhi: India has sought facilitation of “essential two-way travel” to China as it raised concern over Beijing’s action of not allowing Indians to travel there for work and education amid suspension of visas.

On Thursday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that New Delhi hasn’t put any travel restrictions on Chinese nationals willing to visit this country and Beijing should reciprocate accordingly.

The comment came as tensions continue to remain high between both the countries over the ongoing Ladakh standoff nearly a year after the Galwan valley clash.

“Currently, persons from China, including Chinese nationals, are able to travel to India despite the absence of direct connectivity. However, for Indian nationals, travel to China has not been possible since last November as the Chinese side had suspended existing visas,” MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a press briefing.

Indians have been denied visas to China amid its stringent vaccination requirements. The MEA noted this and highlighted that Chinese are being able to travel to India. It also said that New Delhi has raised the matter with Beijing several times.

“As conveyed earlier, we have been in touch with the Chinese side in order to seek an early resumption of travel by Indian citizens to China, especially for those who work or study there. While we recognize the need to ensure safety and strictly follow Covid related protocols, essential two way travel should be facilitated, especially keeping in view the fact that Chinese nationals are able to travel to India,” he said.


Also read: India to receive share of 8 cr unused US vaccines through COVAX: State Department official


The Chinese vaccine hurdle

In March this year, the Chinese Embassy in India issued a notification announcing facilitation of visas only for those individuals who have taken the China-made vaccines — Sinopharm and Sinovac — despite being fully aware of the fact that none of these shots are available in India currently.

On Thursday, the MEA said even the Indian nationals who want to visit China and have met the vaccination criteria haven’t been given visas yet.

“It is understood that several Indian nationals have applied for Chinese visas after getting vaccinated in that manner but are yet to be issued visas. Since these Indian nationals have apparently met the requirements laid down by the Chinese side, we hope that the Chinese Embassy would be able to issue them visas soon,” Bagchi said.

Both the Chinese vaccines are approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

However, these vaccines have not been allowed to enter India owing to the ongoing tensions between the two sides over the border standoff and a violent clash that took place on 15 June 2020 in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed by the Chinese forces.


Also read: No time to lose, conclude talks on vaccines patent waiver by July-end: India to WTO


 

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