India, China tensions rise over visa issue

August 28, 2010 - 0:0

NEW DELHI (AFP) – A lingering border squabble between India and China caused fresh tension between the giants Friday after Beijing refused a visa for an Indian general responsible for the Indian-administered region of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian foreign ministry said the general's planned visit in August had not taken place and called on China to show more “sensitivity.” It gave no details about any response by New Delhi.
The Times of India said that India had cancelled defense exchanges with China and sent an “angry” letter to Beijing, while other reports suggested other planned exchanges had merely been put on hold.
“No defense exchange has been cancelled. The matter (of the general's visit) is being resolved,” a highly placed military source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The Chinese defense and foreign affairs ministries declined to comment when contacted by AFP.
News that B.S. Jaswal, an Indian lieutenant general responsible for the disputed northwestern state of Jammu and Kashmir, had been refused a visa to travel to China caused outrage in India's right-wing opposition party.
“This is the worst kind of insult inflicted upon India,” Prakash Javadekar, spokesman for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), told reporters.
The Times of India said Beijing had denied the visa because Jaswal controlled a “disputed” area.
India bristles at any outside interference in Kashmir, which it views as an integral part of its territory.
The Himalayan Muslim-majority region is administered jointly by India and Pakistan, but claimed in full by both. China also claims part of it, which it says should be in Tibet.
“While we value our exchanges with China, there must be sensitivity to each others' concerns,” said an Indian foreign ministry statement on Friday. “Our dialogue with China on these issues is ongoing.”
The short Indian foreign ministry statement made no reference to New Delhi's response but underlined that “useful” defense exchanges had taken place in recent years.
The Press Trust of India news agency said that China's ambassador Zhang Yang met Friday with an official in the Indian foreign affairs department to discuss the latest spat between the emerging Asian giants.
Despite growing trade between China and India, ties between the countries are wracked by mistrust.
Border disputes in Kashmir and the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, a short war in 1962 and the presence of Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in India all contribute to an atmosphere of suspicion.
China is also a close ally of Pakistan -- India's regional foe -- supplying investment, industry know-how and weapons, including missile technology, according to New Delhi.
Last year, New Delhi was angered by the Chinese practice of issuing visas on separate pieces of paper for Kashmiris which were then stapled into their passports.
The practice resulted in many Kashmiris being prevented by Indian immigration officials from boarding their flights on the grounds that the visas were not valid.
China has also registered complaints with New Delhi in the past year over visits by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh.