Taking the relationships with China forward, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced that India will grant electronic visas or e-visas to the Chinese tourists. The PM chose to announce this significant initiative in his address to the university students and not during his joint appearance for the press with Premier Li Keqiang. For the fact, Chinese authorities have been pushing for e-visas for sometime.
“We have decided to extend electronic tourist visas to Chinese nationals,” PM Modi told during his address to the students and faculty at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Prime Minister’s announcement came as a surprise as just a few hours back, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar had said “no decision has been taken yet” while fielding question on granting e-visas to Chinese tourists.
“We are expanding it bit-by-bit. With regard to China, no decision has been taken yet,” Jaishankar said Friday morning.
The decision to grant e-Visas is expected to generate debate back home given a known opposition to the issue of e-visas from the security agency and in particular the Home Ministry. But ahead of his three-day China visit which began on Thursday, the decision to grant e-visas was left to the Prime Minister to decide. The move to grant e-visas was strongly pressed by the External Affairs Ministry and Ministry of Tourism.
The Union Ministry of Tourism has been encouraging tourism to China. Reportedly, less than two lakh Chinese visit India every year. Over the years Chinese travellers have preferred visiting Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
The e-visa announcement is seen as a prelude to India relaxing investment norms to China to attract largescale Chinese investors.
Besides, PM Modi also stressed on more people to people interaction between India and China. Addressing the gathering at the university, PM Modi said, “About 33 per cent of the world’s population is either Indian or Chinese. Yet, our people know very little of each other”.
“We must seek inspiration from the pilgrims of the ancient times, who braved the unknown in search of knowledge, and enriched us both,” he said.