On the positive side, Beijing has stopped issuing such visas for people from Jammu and Kashmir

India will have to bear with China’s policy of issuing stapled visas for people from Arunachal Pradesh while both sides seek to build on the momentum generated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing earlier this week, diplomatic sources said on Friday.

Before 2009, when China decided to relax its policy of not issuing travel documents to Arunachal Pradesh residents and issue stapled visas, it was impossible for Indians from the State to travel to China.

China has stopped giving stapled visas to people from Jammu & Kashmir. But it won’t be possible to accommodate India’s request to do away with stapled visas for its people from Arunachal Pradesh, the sources said.

India had decided not to go ahead with a memorandum of understanding on further simplifying visa procedures during Dr. Singh’s visit after the controversy generated by the inability of two young archers from Arunachal Pradesh to go to China to take part in a junior world championship last month because of their stapled visas.

“The two archers are of my children’s age. It broke my heart that they couldn’t go. It is being said [by former Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Arunachal Pradesh Kiren Rijiju] that the archers could not go because of China’s policy. It is the immigration authorities [at Delhi airport] who stopped them. China issues stapled visas to citizens from some other countries as well,” diplomatic sources said.

Beijing took New Delhi’s decision not to sign the MoU in its stride, arguing that the move to allow visa-free entry to spouses of diplomats was anyway a small step. “We can live with that,” the sources said, pointing out that Beijing too was looking to ease norms. Six lakh Indians visited China last year as against one lakh Chinese to India. To encourage more travel to India, China wants India to ease a two-month bar on second entry applied to all foreigners after David Coleman Headley was found to have entered India several times in quick succession to conduct reconnaissance for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The intention of both sides is to peacefully manage the differences in the border issue while seeking to build partnerships on the international stage and taking steps to correct the trade imbalance — likely to be $30 billion in China’s favour during this calendar year.

India has been keen on a greater foothold for its two exporting mainstays — pharmaceuticals and software development. In software development, the Chinese view is that both countries are on a par at the lower end while the West holds sway at the top end. In pharma, India joins Western majors who have also been trying to break down resistance from the domestic players.

Instead, India is opening up to the idea of greater Chinese investment, which now stands at $800 million, described by the sources as “peanuts.” In May, India submitted a draft proposal for Chinese industrial plans, and China has started talking to a dozen of its major companies.

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