India’s reported curbs on visas reads as anti-China sentiment after border spat

By Liu Caiyu Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/23 23:43:40

India coronavirus Photo:VCG

As India is reportedly stepping up curbs on the activities of Chinese businesspeople and academics in the country and adding extra scrutiny over visas, Chinese observers said that the move, if true, is a political gesture that extends from the anti-China sentiment following the border clashes. 

The actions may not bring about any actual impact at the moment since Chinese visitors tend to shun coronavirus-ravaged places such as India as its COVID-19 caseload tops three million, experts said. But in the long run, such short-sighted policies will definitely dampen Chinese desire to visit or invest in India.

In a report on Saturday, Bloomberg cited an anonymous official from India's Ministry of External Affairs as saying that visas for Chinese businesspeople, academics, industry experts and advocacy groups will need prior security clearance. The report added that the measures are similar to those that have long been employed with Pakistan. 

The news has not been confirmed by the Indian government as of press time. 

When reached by the Global Times on Sunday, an employee of the representative office of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade in India said that they have not heard any information about Chinese people having to undergo safety clearances because visa applications to India have been suspended due to the epidemic and are yet to resume. 

Visa applications from China to India have been suspended since February due to the epidemic, according to the Chinese Embassy in India.

Chinese experts and Chinese nationals in India who were reached by the Global Times on Sunday said that if India is really tightening up visas, it is likely an extension of the anti-China sentiment in the wake of the border clashes with China. India wrongly considers China as an enemy.

Slapping new curbs on visas for Chinese people is purely a political trick of Indian officials and politicians to cater for the anti-China sentiment among domestic nationalists, thus demonstrating how patriotic they are regarding national security issues, Long Xingchun, president of the Chengdu Institute of World Affairs, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

India has recently blocked dozens of popular Chinese mobile apps including TikTok after the border clashes in the Galwan Valley broke out on June 15. 

India's new investment regulation, unveiled in April, is believed to be discriminative against investors from China. 

Long said that tightening visas on Chinese has been a regular move adopted by India every time there are frictions in bilateral ties. If India is really taking the move this time, it is more of a gesture with no real impact for now.

"Both the epidemic and anti-China sentiments in India are discouraging Chinese from visiting India. Exchanges between China and India will not return to the pre-epidemic status quo at least for a year. It may take at least that long for before bilateral exchanges can resume," Long said. 

For Chinese stranded in India, many are eager to return to China as India has the third-highest number of COVID-19 infections after the US and Brazil, the Global Times learnt.

Some experts warned that these short-sighted policies will discourage Chinese people from visiting and investing in India and will further harm India's national image among Chinese. With fewer people-to-people and trade exchanges, bilateral ties will also be undermined.

Newspaper headline: India's reported curbs on visas reads as anti-China sentiment extending from border clashes: experts

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