China hints at scrapping stapled visa for J&K people

China dropped broad hints at reversing its two-year-old practice of issuing stapled visas to people hailing from Jammu and Kashmir.

Last Updated: Apr 13, 2011, 15:58 PM IST

New Delhi: China on Wednesday 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.

PTI