China rebuffs India, says its policy on J&K visas unchanged

Rejecting India`s assertions on Kashmir, China on Tuesday said that its policy of issuing stapled visas to Kashmiris would remain unchanged.

Updated: Oct 26, 2010, 19:56 PM IST

Beijing: Rejecting New Delhi`s assertions
that Beijing should respect India`s sensitivities on Kashmir,
China on Tuesday said that its policy of issuing stapled visas to
Kashmiris would remain unchanged, in crucial comments ahead of
a meeting between Prime Ministers of the two countries.

Weeks after External Affairs Minister S M Krishna
hoped that Beijing would maintain "neutrality" on the affairs
related to Jammu and Kashmir and respect India`s sensitivities
on the issue, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said,
"Though China had friendly relations with India, its policy
towards the stapled visas for residents of the state remained
unchanged."
The comments come ahead of this week`s meeting between
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen
Jiabao on the sidelines of East Asia Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The issue of stapled visa is likely to figure
prominently at the talks.

Ma Zhaoxu, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said at
his bi-weekly briefing, "As for the Indian Kashmir visa our
policy is consistent and has stayed unchanged." He was
replying to questions whether the issue would come up for
discussions at the meeting between Singh and Wen.

He said officials of both the countries were in
"touch" with each other to arrange the meeting. Indian
officials expect the meeting to take place on October 30.

Ma declined to comment on the just concluded visit of
Singh to Japan and the Indian Prime Minister`s talks with his
Japanese counterpart, Naoto Kan in which China figured
prominently.

"We usually do not comment on leaders meeting from
other countries. Our friendly position with India remains
unchanged. Meanwhile we value strategic relations with Japan,"
Ma said.
China has been issuing stapled visas to residents of
Jammu and Kashmir since 2008.

The policy had its biggest fall out when China
recently declined to grant visa to Lt.Gen. B S Jaswal, the
Chief of Indian Army`s northern command for official talks
here on the ground that he headed troops of a disputed area.

The move prompted India to put on hold all defence
exchanges with China, even though Beijing played down the move
saying that defence ties are intact.

Earlier China stapled visa policy coupled with
references of Gilgit and Baltistan which are part of Pakistan
Occupied Kashmir, (POK) as Northern Areas Pakistan by Chinese
Foreign Ministry spokesperson created an impression that China
changed its neutral stand on the status of Kashmir.

However, an official online map released by China to
rival Google displayed the Line of Control, (LOC) in Kashmir
region acknowledging the both sides of the areas respectively
under the control of India and Pakistan. It also recognises
the Northern Areas of Gligit and Baltistan as part of the
"Pakistan controlled" Jammu and Kashmir.

The stapled visa issue has emerged as an irritant in
Sino-Indian ties at a time when bilateral trade is set to
cross USD 60 billion target set for this year.

PTI