BeyondHeadlines News Desk
New Delhi: China today dropped broad hints at reversing its two-year-old practice of issuing stapled visas to people hailing from Jammu and Kashmir, saying it was willing to work with India to resolve issues relating to people to people exchanges.
“You can watch closely and from which you can pick up and come to a conclusion yourself,” China’s Ambassador to India Zhang Yan told reporters here.
He was replying to a question on whether China had relaxed its practice of giving visas on loose sheets of paper which were stapled on the passports of persons hailing from Jammu and Kashmir. Zhang said the Chinese Foreign Office spokesperson had already commented on the issue in Beijing and he would not like to add any further.
“We are willing to work with India to resolve all issues involving people to people exchanges. These are our general views which indicate our intention,” he said. On resumption of high-level defence exchanges, Zhang said he hoped that the exchanges between the two armies will start again.
“I am happy to know that with the joint efforts of our two sides we will continue our cooperation in the defence field,” he said. In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry official Hong Lie had said China was ready to solve issues relating to people to people exchanges.
“China is ready to work with India to have friendly consultation and properly handle the issues relating to people to people exchanges in our bilateral relations,” Hong had said yesterday.
“We are very confident about the prospect of bilateral relations,” he said. The statement comes in the backdrop of Beijing granting normal visas to four journalists born in Jammu & Kashmir, who are visiting Sanya in Hainan province to cover the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, (BRICS) summit beginning tomorrow.
India called off defence exchanges last year after China refused visa to an Indian Army General B S Jaswal on the ground that he headed troops in Jammu and Kashmir.
China had in 2008 started the practice of issuing visas on loose sheets of paper to people from Jammu and Kashmir, which was seen here as questioning India’s sovereignty over the state.
This had been an irritant in bilateral relations and the matter had snowballed into a major controversy last July after the Jaswal episode. Indian officials were cautiously optimistic that China may have decided to stop the practice, taking on board Indian concerns.
They said the two countries will have to work quietly on this without making any announcements.