BEIJING: China called on Monday on India to meet it halfway in a dispute over journalists working in each other’s countries after China said its reporters in India had been treated unfairly and an Indian journalist was asked to leave China.

The dispute over media staff is the latest episode to highlight tension between the Asian neighbours since a deterioration in ties in mid-2020 when their troops clashed on their disputed Himalayan frontier and 24 people were killed.

“In recent years, Chinese journalists in India have been accorded unfair and discriminatory arrangements,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a Monday briefing.

“We hope that India will continue to issue visas for Chinese journalists and remove the unreasonable restrictions and create favourable conditions for media exchanges.”

China has declined to renew the visas of the last two Indian journalists based there, citing India taking similar action this month against the two remaining Chinese state media journalists in India.

One of the two Indians, a reporter for the Hindustan Times, left China on Sunday as his visa expired, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.

The last Indian reporter in China, from Press Trust of India news agency, will leave this month when his visa expires, the sources said.

India had four reporters based in China this year but two were barred from returning in April after being said that their visas were frozen.

That leaves India without a media presence in the world’s second largest economy.

Wang said India had not approved new visas for Chinese journalists since 2020, resulting in a drop from 14 to only one Chinese correspondent there.

“It is very unfortunate that nothing has been done on the Indian side,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2023

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