BEIJING, May 31, 2023 (AFP): China blamed India on Wednesday for a tit-for-tat visa spat in which they have effectively expelled each other's journalists, adding to tensions between the neighbouring powers.
China's foreign ministry accused the Indian government of arbitrarily shortening visas for Chinese journalists and failing to renew visas since 2020.
"The visa of the last remaining Chinese journalist in India has also expired," foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a regular news conference.
Beijing has had "no choice but to take appropriate countermeasures", Mao said without specifying such measures, in response to reports that China was retaliating by blocking Indian journalists' visa renewal applications.
Ananth Krishnan, a correspondent for India's The Hindu newspaper, wrote on Twitter that there was now "only one accredited Indian reporter in Beijing".
Mao said a return to normal was dependent on "whether India can work in the same direction as China, and provide the same convenience and assistance to Chinese journalists in India".
Relations have been strained since a high-altitude border clash that killed 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops in June 2020.
China and India have since massed tens of thousands of soldiers along the border who remain there despite 18 rounds of talks between top military officials.
India is also seeking to develop closer ties with Western countries, including Quad members the United States, Japan, and Australia, which see Delhi as an alternative to China.
Beijing has not named a new ambassador to New Delhi since former envoy Sun Weidong left the post last year.
China has used journalist visas to apply diplomatic pressure in the past, with Beijing expelling 13 US journalists in 2020 as relations between the rival superpowers plummeted at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. - AFP