(CTN News) – On Friday, India’s foreign ministry registered a formal protest with Beijing due to the inability of three Indian athletes to enter China for their participation in the ongoing Asian Games in Hangzhou.
These athletes, who specialize in martial arts, hail from the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, an area that China claims as Zangnan, or South Tibet.
According to Indian media reports, the trio had received approval from the 19th Asian Games Organizing Committee to participate in the sporting event taking place in the eastern Chinese city.
Challenges with Accreditation Cards Lead to Entry Hurdles At Asian Games
However, they encountered difficulties in downloading their accreditation cards, which serve as the necessary visas for entry into China.
A spokesperson from the Chinese foreign ministry stated on Friday that China welcomes athletes from all nations, provided they possess valid legal documentation. This statement implied that Beijing does not officially acknowledge Indian passports as valid documents.
During a regular press conference held in Beijing, spokesperson Mao Ning emphasized, “The Chinese government has consistently not recognized what is referred to as Arunachal Pradesh, and the Zangnan region is an integral part of Chinese territory.”
In contrast, a senior official from the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) refuted claims that the three Indian athletes had been denied entry. He asserted that the athletes had been granted visas for the Hangzhou Asian Games.
Wei Jizhong, an honorary life vice-president of the OCA and a Chinese national, addressed reporters in Hangzhou, stating, “These Indian athletes had already received visas to enter China.
China did not decline any visa applications. Regrettably, these athletes chose not to accept the visas.”
In past instances involving Indian athletes traveling to sports events in China, a practice known as a “stapled visa,” issued on a separate piece of paper, has been employed for individuals originating from Arunachal Pradesh.
This approach aimed to avoid placing official stamps on their Indian government-issued passports.
Border Disputes Between India and China Over Arunachal Pradesh
India’s Ministry of External Affairs had previously issued travel advisories to Indian citizens, cautioning that China’s practice of providing alternative paper visas was not recognized as valid upon departing from India.
The ongoing disputes between these neighboring countries have centered on the entry of residents from the Indian-controlled region into China.
Beijing has consistently declined to issue visas to individuals from this area, asserting that they already reside within Chinese territory. The region south of the Himalayas shares a profound connection in terms of ethnicity, culture, history, and religious heritage with Tibet.
An agreement reached in 1914 delineated a border – known as the McMahon Line – with the Tibetan local government that allocated the region to British India. However, the Chinese central government has persistently contested the validity of this demarcation line.
This dispute remains unresolved, and in 1962, the two nations engaged in a border conflict, during which the People’s Liberation Army briefly occupied the region before announcing a unilateral ceasefire and withdrawal due to logistical challenges.
Today, the Line of Actual Control serves as the de facto border between China and India, occasionally witnessing skirmishes and confrontations.
In 1972, India established a North-East Frontier Agency in the region, later renaming it Arunachal Pradesh in 1987, thereby formalizing its status as an official Indian state.