Two members denied visa, delegation leader Alok Bansal’s held back; was to travel next week
In what appears to be a direct impact of the border stand-off in Bhutan, a track-2 delegation that was to visit China next week for talks had to call off the visit after visas were denied or held back for several members.
The delegation of the India Foundation – which conducts similar dialogues with other nations in the region – was to leave for Shanghai next week. “A seven-member delegation was to go but two were denied visas and my application was held back. Unfortunately we were left with no option but to call off the visit,” Alok Bansal, Director of India Foundation, told ThePrint.
However, late on Friday night, Beijing said the delegation had been issued visas.
“As far as I know, all seven members of India Foundation delegation to visit China got their visas in time. None of the visa application was denied. The delegation will visit China as scheduled. The Chinese side always welcomes and supports the exchanges of think tanks between China and India,” the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a post midnight statement.
The India Foundation counts BJP leaders and Central ministers Suresh Prabhu, Nirmala Sitharaman, Jayant Sinha and MJ Akbar on its board of directors. Ram Madhav, national general secretary of the BJP, is an active member of the foundation but was not scheduled to take part in the dialogue.
Bansal, who was to lead the delegation, said that this was the fourth interaction planned as part of a bilateral agreement signed in 2014 with Fudan University in China. The delegation was to visit Shanghai and Kunming and was scheduled to discuss bilateral issues including CPEC and the Chinese presence in the South Asian region.
“We have had fruitful interactions with them in the past. A Chinese delegation had come in 2014 and 2016 and we had earlier gone there in 2015 for talks,” Bansal said. The Indian delegation consisted of seven academicians and was to leave for China on 11 July.
Tensions between India and China are simmering over a stand-off on the Bhutanese border over construction activities that have been deemed illegal. Troops have been deployed from both sides and are currently pitched against each other on the Doklam Plateau.
Picture: A file photo of Indian and Chinese armies meeting on the border.