In a back-and-forth exchange between China and India, the last remaining Indian journalist in China has been asked to depart from the country, deepening the divide between the two Asian economic powerhouses.
According to news reports, Chinese authorities have instructed the Press Trust of India reporter to leave China this month. This move will eliminate India’s media presence from the world’s second-largest economy during a time of deteriorating relations.
Journalists denied visa renewals
Earlier this year, Indian media outlets had four reporters stationed in China. However, the Hindustan Times reporter left over the weekend, while two journalists from India’s public broadcaster, Prasar Bharati, and The Hindu newspaper were denied visa renewals in April.
Last month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning disclosed that there was one remaining Chinese journalist in India, awaiting a visa renewal. Prior to this, New Delhi rejected visa renewals for two journalists from Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television.
India’s Foreign Ministry stated earlier this month that Chinese reporters had faced no difficulties in operating within India, contrasting with the challenges faced by Indian journalists in China. The two nations have been in communication regarding this matter.
Why did the dispute begin?
The visa dispute began a few months ago due to Indian journalists hiring assistants in China to aid in their reporting, as per Indian officials familiar with the situation. Officials stated that Beijing imposed restrictions, allowing only three individuals at a time to be hired from a pool provided by Chinese authorities. In contrast, India does not have such limitations on hiring.
Tensions between Beijing and New Delhi have been high since a deadly clash on their shared Himalayan frontier in 2020. China has attempted to separate the border issue from the overall relationship and focus on trade and economic ties. However, India has made it clear that normalizing relations is contingent upon resolving the border dispute.
These visa rejections occur as India prepares to host the Group of Twenty (G-20) and the Shanghai Cooperation Dialogue meetings this year. China’s President Xi is expected to attend the G-20 leaders’ summit in September as the nation aims to strengthen its diplomatic and political presence worldwide.
Tensions between China and US
China and the United States have also engaged in a prolonged dispute over journalist visas. After the Trump administration labeled certain Chinese media companies as “foreign missions” and implemented caps on the number of Chinese journalists in the country, Beijing responded by revoking press credentials for reporters from US media organizations.
In 2020, two Australian journalists based in China fled the country amidst worsening diplomatic tensions between the two nations. Initially prohibited from leaving, they spent five days under consular protection until Australian diplomats negotiated their departure. That same year, Beijing accused Canberra of raiding the homes of Chinese state-media staff and seizing their property.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper’s PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)