China on Thursday said that its decision to expel two Indian journalists was a “counter measure” against New Delhi’s “unfair” treatment of Chinese journalists.

In April, China had barred State-run Prasar Bharati’s reporter Anshuman Mishra and The Hindu correspondent Ananth Krishnan from returning to the country. Both of them were based in Beijing but were in India when their visas had been “frozen”.

At a press conference on Wednesday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning alleged that the action was taken as Chinese reporters had been subjected to “unfair and discriminatory treatment” in India for a long time.

“In 2017, the Indian side shortened the period of validity of visas held by Chinese journalists in India to three months or even one month without any valid reason,” Mao claimed. “Since 2020, the Indian side has refused to review and approve Chinese journalists’ applications for stationing in India.”

She said that the number of Chinese journalists in India has plummeted from 14 to just one.

“As we speak, the Indian side still has not renewed the visa of the last Chinese journalist in the country,” Mao said. “The number of Chinese journalists stationed in India is about to drop to zero. Considering this, the Chinese side has no choice but to take appropriate counter-measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese media organisations.”

She added that China was still willing to maintain communication with India under the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. “We hope that India will work in the same direction with China, seriously respond to China’s legitimate concerns, and take concrete steps as soon as possible to create favourable conditions for restoring normal exchange between the media organisations of the two countries,” Mao said.

The spokesperson was responding to a question about a report in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, which said that both India and China have “ejected each other’s journalists in recent weeks, virtually wiping out mutual media access and deepening a rift between the world’s two most populous nations”.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the newspaper said that New Delhi has declined to renew the visas of the last two remaining Chinese journalists working for state-run Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television.

On the other hand, the report added that of the two Indian journalists remaining in China, Beijing has revoked the accreditation of one. The journalist, however, remains in the country, it said.

Ties between India and China have been strained since the militaries of the two countries clashed in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in June 2020. Tensions had flared at multiple friction points, with both countries stationing tens of thousands of troops backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets.

Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the clash, while China had put the number of casualties on its side at four.

Tensions between the two countries escalated once again on December 9, after Indian and Chinese troops clashed in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh. New Delhi said that the clash took place after Chinese soldiers attempted to change the status quo at the Line of Actual Control.

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