Stapled visas not issued to Kashmiris: China

China has apparently acknowledged that it has discontinued its policy of issuing stapled visas to people from Jammu and Kashmir.

Beijing: China has apparently acknowledged
that it has discontinued its policy of issuing stapled visas
to people from Jammu and Kashmir, suggesting that there have
been no such cases in recent times.

"Have you seen any such reports (of issuance of stapled
visas to Kashmiris) in recent times?" Deputy Director General
of China`s Foreign Ministry Li Kexin said here, replying to a
question on the issue.

His remarks come ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao`s
visit to New Delhi next week to participate in the fourth
BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit.

However, on issuance of stapled visas to people from
Arunachal Pradesh, Li referred to the boundary problem between
the two countries and said the issue should not affect
the overall bilateral relations.

"The issue should not affect the overall bilateral ties.
Both the countries have different position on the boundary
issue and we must continue our efforts to resolve the issue
through dialogue," the senior Foreign Ministry official said.

China had in 2008 started issuing visas on loose sheets
of paper to people from Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and
Kashmir, drawing India`s ire.

China`s Ambassador to India Zhang Yan had last year
dropped hints of reversing the practice but there was no clear
official word on it.

Seeking better people-to-people contact, another top
official in the Foreign Ministry said the number of tourists
visiting each other`s country was quite low compared to the
size of their population.

"We have 1.3 billion people here and 1.2 billion in India
which is altogether 2.5 billion. But around 700,000 people
visited each other`s country last year which is very low. We
must encourage" such visits, Deputy Director General of Asian
Department in Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sun Weidong said.

Noting that the bilateral ties were on an upswing, he
said the two fastest growing economies should create a "new
platform" to tackle various regional and international issues
like the economic slowdown and situation in Syria and Iran.

"We have common interest in most of the key global issues
in the world. We must work together on how to tackle global
slowdown and issues related to Syria and Iran," he said,
adding China wants a peaceful resolution of the situation in
Afghanistan where both India and China have stakes.

Contending that the emerging economies have been a strong
locomotive for the world economy, Li said China has high
expectation from the two-day BRICS summit to be held from
March 28 in New Delhi.

"We are looking for formulation of a common view on major
issues in the BRICS. I think leaders of the five member
countries will be able to formulate a common view on
important issues," he said.

Asked about military cooperation between the two
countries, Li said India and China were strategic partners and
military exchange was part of the framework.

"I think military exchanges between the two countries
will help us build more trust," he said.

On whether the two countries were in touch over
cooperation in maritime security, he hinted about China`s
readiness for such cooperation, saying relevant departments
were looking at the issue.

"We have already organised exchange of visits of
warships... Both the countries have long coastlines and I
think we have maritime opportunities," Li said.