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Chinese visa applications decline post-Galwan clash amid economic security concerns

According to an official, the Modi government was forced to act because the Xi Jinping dictatorship was still exerting pressure on India both on land and at sea.

Reported by:  PTC News Desk  Edited by:  Annesha Barua -- June 21st 2024 08:35 AM
Chinese visa applications decline post-Galwan clash amid economic security concerns

Chinese visa applications decline post-Galwan clash amid economic security concerns

PTC News Desk: According to top officials and data HT was able to access, India has issued fewer visas to Chinese nationals than it did before the border skirmish between Indian Army and People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers at Galwan four years ago. This is because the Narendra Modi government is placing a greater emphasis on national economic security.

Colonel Santosh Babu was among the twenty Indian soldiers who sacrificed their life at Galwan while attempting to thwart the PLA's attempt to eat into Indian territory in East Ladakh. The number of Chinese soldiers killed in the skirmish was likewise unknown.

Senior officials in the national security establishment and economic ministries have informed HT that, prior to the pandemic and the June 15, 2020 Galwan clash, approximately 200,000 visas were granted to Chinese nationals in 2019. This number was reduced to just 2,000 in 2024 following a structural screening of Chinese investments in India.

But in the last eight months, the government has granted approximately 1,500 visas to Chinese citizens, of which about 1,000 have been given to meet the demands of the Indian electronics sector. There are currently 1,000 more of these visas pending, the most of them are for the electronics sector once more after thorough vetting.

In spite of the government lowering corporate income tax and introducing a ₹2 lakh crore production linked incentive (PLI) scheme in a dozen sectors to boost production, India was only able to export $8.93 billion worth of goods to China between January and May 2024, while $47 billion worth of goods were imported from Beijing. As a result, the trade deficit with China exceeded $38.11 billion in the first five months of the current year.

The denial of visas to Chinese workers and businessmen is allegedly causing job losses in the Indian electronic industry. However, official data released on June 14th indicates that India's merchandise exports increased by over 9% percent on an annualized basis in May 2024, with petroleum products, engineering goods, and electronics being the main drivers of this growth. In large part because of the PLI program, India's exports of electronic goods increased from $23.55 billion in FY 2023 to $29.12 billion in FY 2024.

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Five senior officials said that after Galwan, structural screening of Chinese investments showed that Chinese telecom firms like Vivo were breaking Indian regulations and were even accused by the Enforcement Directorate of using money laundering to send money to China in order to avoid paying taxes in India. ED has charged Vivo with embezzling over $13 billion back to China in addition to its leaders' and employees' visa infractions.

"We are quite concerned about what the government are doing right now. The recent arrests show that harassment is still occurring, and as a result, there is concern in the larger sector. Following the ED action, Vivo released a statement saying, "We are determined to use every legal avenue to address and challenge these accusations."

The national security establishment, which includes the economic ministries, has made it clear that visas will only be granted after vetting because uncontrolled visa issuance will harm India's "Atmanirbhar Bharat" plan and have an adverse effect on domestic manufacturing, despite the cries of the Indian industry for more visas for Chinese workers and technicians.

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Since the PLA's violations in May 2020, India and China have severed diplomatic ties, and Beijing continues to obstruct the Indian Army's ability to patrol its own side of the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. The PLA is still tasked with de-escalating from the LAC and reestablishing the status quo in East Ladakh after numerous rounds of military and diplomatic negotiations. The Chinese military is present in East Ladakh at full strength, with Chinese reserves, four years after Galwan.

Chinese surveillance ships are stationed in the Indian Ocean region year-round, so the situation there is similar. Even on Thursday, the PLA Navy's anti-piracy units were stationed near Djibouti, the Gulf of Aden, and the Madagascar channel, while the Chinese ballistic missile tracker Yuan Wang 7 was stationed 1,000 kilometers south of Kanyakumari.

As per an official statement, the Modi government was forced to take action to lessen the reliance of the Indian economy on China, given the ongoing pressure from the Xi Jinping regime, both on land and at sea. "A few pieces of silver cannot be worth sacrificing India's economic security. Chinese technicians and businessmen would only be granted visas following screening and confirmation that their travel restrictions won't be broken, according to a Cabinet minister who wished to remain anonymous.

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- With inputs from agencies

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