China has justified as "goodwill" gesture its policy of issuing stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh, saying such a policy does not "undermine" the positions of both India and China which have disputes over big parts of that area.
"China has resorted to a special arrangement of issuance of stapled visa to address the need for travel of local people. This gesture is out of goodwill and flexibility and if we do not do that, we will not be able to address the concern of outbound and overseas travel of these people," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, on a two-day visit to India, said.
Wang added, “If this is acceptable to Indian side, it could be continued in the future as it does not undermine or compromise our respective positions on the border question and we will be able to address the question of these people".
However, Wang, who was addressing a press conference at the end of his two-day visit to India during which he called on President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and held talks with his counterpart Sushma Swaraj, said there can be further discussion on the stapled visa issue during consultation between the consular officials and pitched for a simpler visa regime to enable more people-to-people contact.
China has been issuing stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh, which India has been protesting, maintaining that it does not recognise such visas.
Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in New Delhi. Photograph: SnapsIndia