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India fights China's passport prick with visas|
TNN | Nov 24, 2012, 02.29 AM IST
NEW DELHI: After the recent quiet over territorial issues, New Delhi and Beijing are back to bitter one-upmanship which started with China's newly launched e-passports showing Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin in J&K as parts of China. India has responded by not just registering a strong protest with China but by also imprinting its own map on visas that are issued to Chinese nationals.
The watermark on China's e-passports depicting its map is not specific to India and has ended up offending most of its neighbours by showing disputed islands in the South China Sea as Chinese territory. Vietnam and the Philippines have officially let their displeasure known to Beijing.
"We are not prepared to accept it," said foreign minister Salman Khurshid on Friday evening. "We, therefore, ensure that our flags of disagreement are put out immediately when something happens. We can do it in an agreeable way or you can do it in a disagreeable way," he added.
Government sources said that they noticed these e-passports a few weeks ago after which they took up the matter with the Chinese foreign ministry describing the development as unacceptable. "It was when nothing happened that we informed them that if this practice continues, we will respond to it by putting our map on visas which we give to Chinese nationals," said an official source.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said that the issued needed to be dealt with in a "level-headed and rational manner".
"Hope the countries regard it in a cool-headed manner. China would like to maintain communication with other counties to ensure convenience of travel for both Chinese and foreigners," she said in Beijing.
Even earlier China repeatedly issued stapled visas to residents of J&K, terming it as a "disputed territory" and denied visas to those hailing from Arunachal Pradesh. On Thursday, the government had said in Parliament that China continues to be in illegal occupation of approximately 38,000sq km in J&K.
"In addition, under the so-called 'Sino-Pakistan Boundary Agreement of 1963', Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 sq km of Indian territory in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to China," junior foreign minister E Ahmed had said in reply to a written question.
"Government is aware that Pakistan and China are executing projects in Indian territories under illegal occupation of those countries. Government keeps a constant watch on all developments having a bearing on India's national interest and takes all necessary measures to safeguard it," he had added.