Pledging to improve historically weak economic links between their countries, India and China also signed 24 deals worth over $10 billion, including MOUs in the area of skill development, railways, establishing sister relations between cities of the two countries among others.
Brushing aside objections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced granting of e-visa (electronic visa also called visa on arrival) facility to the Chinese nationals in Beijing even as he urged China to “reconsider its approach” to issues that have long strained ties and complicated business between the two Asian giants.Pledging to improve historically weak economic links between their countries, India and China also signed 24 deals worth over $10 billion, including MOUs in the area of skill development, railways, establishing sister relations between cities of the two countries among others.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Modi’s announcement on e-visas took everyone by surprise as only a couple of hours before had India’s foreign secretary S Jaishankar said categorically, “We are expanding it (e-visa) bit by bit. With regard to China, no decision has been taken yet on extending e-visa.”While India has been quickly extending e-visa facility to several countries, the proposal to grant it to China was hanging fire amid strong opposition by union Home ministry on the advise of Central security agencies.Incidentally, Modi chose to announce the initiative while addressing the faculty of Tsinghua University in Beijing and not during his joint appearance before media with Premier Li Keqiang.Explaining the rationale Modi said, “About 33 percent of the world’s population is either Indian or Chinese. Yet, our people know very little of each other… We must seek inspiration from the pilgrims of the ancient times, who braved the unknown in search of knowledge, and enriched us both,””So, we have decided to extend electronic tourist visas to Chinese nationals. We are celebrating the Year of India in China in 2015.”However, the move has come as a bit of surprise for China watchers, as Beijing so far has not offered any concession on issuing stapled visa to Indian citizens of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir that remains a sore point in the relationship between the two countries.Questioning the rationale behind the decision, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “He should explain whether China has abandoned the policy of stapled visa that it gives to Indians.”Government sources, however, said after no decision could be arrived at the secretary-level inter-ministerial talks, it was left to the prerogative of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).dna had also reported on April 20 that despite Intelligence Bureau’s caution not to provide e-visa facility to China, PMO was thinking to move ahead and give Chinese the preferred treatment.The IB had red-flagged the issue on various counts including frequent issuance of stapled visa by China to people from Arunachal Pradesh and J&K.The e-visa, enabled by electronic travel authorisation, allows prospective visitor to apply for an Indian visa from his or her home country online without requiring a visit to the Indian mission. The fee can also be paid online.Once approved, the applicant receives an email authorising travel to India and applicant can travel with a printout of this authorisation. On arrival, the visitor presents the authorisation to the immigration authorities who stamp the entry into the country.Tourism Ministry had been pitching for offering the facility to China as during December 2014, a total of 14,083 e-tourist visas were issued as compared to 2,700 during December 2013, registering a growth of 421.6 per cent.It believes that extension of e-visa to China can boost India’s tourism industry as Visit India that is being celebrated this year can attract a large proportion of 100 million Chinese tourists who visited abroad last year and spent billions of dollars.
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