By Tenzin Monlam
DHARAMSHALA, July 29: The Indian government yesterday made its first official statement on the issue of denying visa extension for three Chinese journalists working for the Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua
by stating that they were issues ‘relating to their conduct not being in conformity’ with the visa rules.
"This matter has been under discussion for some time now. Visa of the Xinhua Bureau Chief in New Delhi had expired on the December 31, 2015, while visas of the two Xinhua correspondents in Mumbai, had expired in March 2016. When the time came for renewing their visas, there were issues relating to their conduct not being in conformity with the provisions of the visa rules,” said Vikas Swarup, Spokesperson of External Affairs Ministry, without divulging details.
He said that short-term extensions were given to them in anticipation that they would be replaced. However, the central government had made it clear that they would not be extended beyond July 31, 2016.
The spokesperson added that India is in contact with China and expects no issues when the replacement of Wu Qiang and Lu Tang, Bureau Chief in Delhi and Mumbai respectively and She Yonggang, Mumbai-based reporter arrives in India.
The two Mumbai-based journalists visited Tibetan settlements in Karnataka under false identities and without proper travel permit. As per the regulation, no foreigner or foreign aid agency can visit any Tibetan settlement in India without a protected area permit (PAP), which is issued by the Union Home Ministry.
Sources also confirm that they were involved in activities beyond their journalistic duties and capacities.
Calling it a ‘petty act’, another state-run Global Times in their editorial criticized India’s move and warned of serious consequences. Calling India having a ‘suspicious mind’ and termed it as revenge against China for opposing India’s entry in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
However, media reports indicate that the three journalists paid visits to the Serpom Monastery in Bylakupee Tibetan settlement and Shar Ganden Monastery in Mundgod, the two monasteries that broke away from their parent monastery, refusing to denounce the worship of the controversial deity Dorjee Shugden.