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India strongly protests China’s regular visa denial to its Arunachali Asian Games athletes, minister cancels participation

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(TibetanReview.net, Sep23’23) – India has on Sep 22 lodged a strong protest to China for denying accreditation and entry to three of its wushu sportswomen who belong to its border state of Arunachal Pradesh to the 19th Asian Games being held in Hangzhou. Also, India’s Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Youth Affairs and Sports, Mr Anurag Thakur, has cancelled his scheduled visit to China for the Games.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs has accused China of engaging in a “targeted and pre-meditated” discrimination against the three sportswomen from the state.

“In line with our long-standing, and consistent position, India firmly rejects differential treatment of Indian citizens on the basis of domicile or ethnicity. Arunachal Pradesh was, is and always remain an integral and inalienable part of India,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry further said that “a strong protest has been lodged in New Delhi and Beijing against China’s deliberate and selective obstruction of some of our sportspersons. China’s action violates both the spirit of the Asian Games and the rules governing their conduct, which explicitly prohibits discrimination against competitors from member states.”

The Indian government reserved the “right to take suitable measures to safeguard our interests”, the statement further said.

China has again prevented three wushu sportswomen from the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh from travelling to its city of Hangzhou to participate in the Asian Games which opened on Sep 22. (Photo courtesy: PTI)

The three sportswomen from Arunachal – Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega and Mepung Lamgu –could not travel to Hangzhou as they were unable to download travel documents from the official Chinese website. The rest of the wushu squad – comprising a total of 10 players – faced no such issues and boarded a flight on Sep 20 for Hong Kong, from where they had a connecting flight to Hangzhou.

Wei Jizhong, honorary vice president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), has contended that Indian athletes were given visas to enter China. “I don’t think this is OCA’s problem because China honoured its agreement to let all athletes who satisfy the eligibility [norms] to come and compete in China,” hindustantimes.com Sep 22 quoted him as saying.

Meanwhile, when asked about the matter at a media briefing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning has sought to link the issue to Beijing’s claim on Arunachal Pradesh. “As the host country, China welcomes athletes from all countries to the games using legal identification. The Chinese government has never recognised so-called ‘Arunachal’. The area of Zangnan is Chinese territory,” the report quoted her as saying.

This was the reason why the three athletes were issued stapled visas instead of stamped ones, which indicated China’s refusal to recognize them as citizens of India.

The practice of issuing visas on loose sheets of paper has been seen as China’s way of questioning India’s sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh, noted Reuters Sep 22.

China lays claim to Arunachal Pradesh, calling it Zangnan (southern Tibet) on the basis of its armed invasion and illegal annexation of Tibet right after the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on Oct 1, 1949. India recognized Tibet as an autonomous region of the PRC in a 1954 trade agreement with China.

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