In a move that signals a thaw in relations, India has eased a one per cent cap on visas for foreign nationals on a project workforce to revive Chinese investment in infrastructure.
The ceiling was imposed late last year to control the entry of unskilled Chinese labour, leading to the return of several thousand mostly unskilled Chinese workers who had secured business visas instead of employment visas to work on Indian infrastructure projects.
Employment visa applications are still being screened to filter unskilled labour.
“At the moment, there is no cap... it was an immediate response when we faced a problem last year. We have found a better way to do it,” confirmed a top Indian official in Beijing on the sidelines of a visit from Kamal Nath, the minister for road transport and highways, to invite Chinese investment in building Indian roads.
After New Delhi toughened enforcement of visa rules, Indian infrastructure projects had slowed down and the Chinese investors and the media had complained about ‘discrimination’.
Nath didn’t rule out Chinese investment in Indian road building in strategic areas where Chinese telecom firms face restrictions.
The Chinese will be expected to invest in technology and management, not introduce Chinese manpower to actually build roads, he said.
A Chinese joint venture was recently cleared for a Kashmir road project.