Relaxed visa norms with China only if stapled visas stopped in Arunachal

  • Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 11, 2014 21:44 IST

The government is batting for a liberalised visa pact with China ahead of Chinese Xi Jinping’s arrival in India on September 17, provided it agrees to stop issuing stapled visas to residents of India’s northeastern state, Arunachal Pradesh.

The Centre has been contemplating easing the visa regime for long, a move that will boost economic ties between the two nations. The visa pact provides for extending the validity for business visas, removing restrictions on reapplication of tourist visas, and imposing a one-month time-frame for home ministry clearance for applications.

“When China’s foreign minister was here (in June), he was told, ‘If we believe in one China policy, you should also believe in one India policy’,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said Monday.

“When they raised with us the issue of Tibet and Taiwan, we appreciated their sensitivities. So we also want that they should understand and appreciate our sensitivities regarding Arunachal,” she said.

India has been insisting that China should stop issuing stapled visa to residents of Arunanchal Pradesh, which China claims as its own territory.

The visa agreement, although ready, was not signed at the last moment during former prime minister, Manmohan Singh’s visit to China last October.

Signing the pact will clear bottlenecks in Chinese investment flowing to India, which will offset the ballooning trade deficit between the two countries.

According to sources, China plans to invest around $7 billion in industrial parks. Last year, the two-way trade totalled $65.9 billion, but $51 billion of that was exports from China.

Xi’s visit will have a rich and varied agenda, ranging from investments in infrastructure, including railways, industrial parks and trans-border transport corridors.

India is hoping Xi will talk about definite measures to improve Indian exports to China in various sectors, including IT and pharmaceuticals. Since the visit of foreign minister Wang Yi in June, China has been insisting on India getting high-speed trains from its biggest neighbour.

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