China on Friday dismissed allegations that it had refused a visa to the manager of India’s badminton team because he is a resident of Arunachal Pradesh, saying he had himself cancelled the application.
Bamang Tago, manager of the Indian team for the Thaihot China Open Badminton Championship 2016, was reportedly denied a visa by the Chinese embassy in New Delhi because he is from Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing calls “south Tibet” and claims as part of its territory. The tourney is being held at Fuzhou in southern China.
China says the state is part of the long and festering border dispute it has with India.
On Friday, the foreign ministry said Tago had cancelled his visa application.
“What you said does not comply with the facts,” foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters at the regular news briefing when asked about the denial of visa.
“According to what we learnt that the person you have mentioned had previously gone to the Chinese embassy in India for visa application but later he himself cancelled the visa application,” Geng said.
Asked whether Togo was denied a visa because he hails from Arunachal Pradesh, Geng said: “The way China issues visa to relevant people is a flexible approach adopted by China to facilitate exchanges between two sides pending the final settlement of the boundary question.
“It fully reflects China's sincerity and flexibility. We hope that India will work together with China to maintain sound momentum of personnel exchanges and cooperation in different fields between the two sides.”
The media had quoted Tago as saying: “The Badminton Association of India had submitted all relevant documents of the Indian contingent at the Chinese embassy several weeks ago for visa. All the 13 members got their visas and left for Fuzhou on November 12 but for the manager.”
External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in New Delhi the matter had been brought to the government’s notice. “The government's position on differential treatment of Indian passport holders is clear and well known. We have conveyed it to the Chinese side...We expect them to address this issue in the spirit of reciprocity and smooth development of bilateral relations,” he said.
In 2011, a five-member karate team on its way to Quanzhou in Fujian province to take part in the Asian Karate-do Championship was stopped by Indian immigration officials at Indira Gandhi international airport in New Delhi for possessing stapled visas issued by the Chinese embassy.