, NEW DELHI, Jan 13 – India reacted angrily Thursday to an extension of what it views as a provocative Chinese visa policy towards Indians living in areas disputed by the giant Asian neighbours.
In a move likely to put further strain on an already sensitive relationship, China issued stapled visas to an Indian athlete and his coach from the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as its territory.
This comes barely a month after the visit of China\’s Premier Wen Jiabao, during which India had complained about similar visas being issued to residents of Indian Kashmir, part of which is also under dispute.
India argues that stapling in visas amounts to a gratuitous challenge to its sovereignty and usually refuses to let Indian residents with such visas travel to China.
"We have unequivocally conveyed to the Chinese side that a uniform practice on issuance of visas to Indian nationals must be followed, regardless of the applicant’s ethnicity or place of domicile," foreign ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said Thursday.
Although Wen\’s visit last month was used by both countries to stress the importance of future cooperation — especially on trade — ties between the two emerging Asian giants have been dogged by mutual mistrust ever since a brief border war in 1962.
In the past year, China has expressed its anger with New Delhi over visits to Arunachal Pradesh by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet who lives in exile in India.
Chinese officials have been handing out different visas to Kashmiris since 2009.
Competing territorial claims to Kashmir are the main source of friction between India and arch-rival Pakistan, which is a close ally of Beijing.