New Delhi: Acknowledging the important role played by the media in India-China relations, India on Thursday said it would not object to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua replacing three journalists whose visas were not renewed by the Indian government.
Wu Qiang and Lu Tang, heads of Xinhua’s bureaus in Delhi and Mumbai , respectively, and She Yonggang, a reporter with Xinhua’s Mumbai bureau have been told to leave India before 31 July with the Indian government deciding not to renew their visas.
According to news reports, India’s home ministry said the Chinese journalists had travelled to Bengaluru recently for an event where they met Tibetan activists; the meetings came to the notice of Indian authorities.
On Thursday, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said: “the visas of Xinhua Bureau Chief in New Delhi had expired on 31st December 2015 while visas of the two Xinhua correspondents in Mumbai, had expired in March, 2016. When the time came for renewing their visas, there were issues relating to their conduct not being in conformity with the provisions of the visa rules.
“Short-term extensions were given to them in the expectation that they would be replaced. Thereafter, we made it clear to Xinhua that it would not be possible for us to extend the visas of the journalists concerned beyond 31st July 2016," he said.
“ We have been in touch with the Chinese side on this matter. Let me assure you that we expect no issue when their replacements come in due course.
“With the expansion of bilateral ties between India and China, the resident journalists in both countries have a key role in increasing mutual understanding and appreciation and contributing to stronger people to people ties," Swarup added.
The Indian foreign ministry, which facilitates the work visas of foreign journalists coming to India, would continue to do so, he said.
India hosts exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala, something that China views with suspicion.
China says the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, is a violent separatist. He denies espousing violence and says he only wants genuine autonomy for Tibet.
A section of analysts believe that India and China fought the brief but bitter 1962 war due to tensions over the Dalai Lama being granted asylum in India.