After conveying Chinese President Xi Jinping’s message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India will achieve greater development and progress under his leadership, visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi Monday said Beijing resorted to stapled visas for residents of Arunachal Pradesh as a “goodwill” gesture so as to facilitate their “outbound and overseas travel”.
Wang, who addressed a press conference after his meetings with Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee, said responding to a question, “In the eastern sector of China-India border, relatively big area is in dispute. This is an objective fact. However, people living in those areas need to interact with each other. So, as a special arrangement, we have resorted to stapled visa to address the need of the local people to travel.”
“This is a gesture out of goodwill and out of our own flexibility. If we do not do that, we will not be able to address the question concerning the outbound and overseas travel of these people. This practice has been going on for relatively a long period of time, and if it is acceptable to the Indian side, it could be continued in the future because it does not undermine or compromise our respective positions on the boundary question…will also be able to help us address the issues concerning travel of people living in those areas,” the Chinese Foreign Minister said.
This is the first time that a Chinese leader has used such an argument to defend stapled visas for Indian nationals. India has never accepted stapled visas for Indians — be it from Arunachal Pradesh or from Jammu and Kashmir — and have repeatedly protested them at various levels.
Wang also pushed for a “convenient visa” regime, since large number of people have to travel. He said a visa simplification agreement has been reached, and hoped it can be signed at an early date.
On the border dispute, he said through years of “concerted efforts”, the two sides are discussing the framework agreement which is a “crucial stage”.
Wang, who met Modi Monday afternoon, said the new leadership has brought a “strong and new wind” that can be felt across the country. Their 45-minute meeting was described as “constructive and cordial” by officials.