The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday said it hoped that Beijing would allow Indian journalists to work in China amid a diplomatic row between the two countries over visas for foreign reporters.

The development comes a day after Beijing said that it had expelled two Indian journalists in April as a “counter measure” against New Delhi’s “unfair” treatment of Chinese journalists.

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

At a press conference on Friday, Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that New Delhi allows all foreign journalists to operate in India without any difficulties. “Meanwhile, Indian journalists in China have been operating with certain difficulties, such as not being permitted to hire locals as correspondents or as journalists,” he said.

Bagchi said that the Indian government allows foreign journalists to hire locals to run their bureaus. Drawing a comparison with the neighbouring country, he said that Indian journalists face several restrictions while travelling within China.

“The Indian side supports and facilitates foreign journalists in India, I am sure you can attest to it,” Bagchi told reporters. “At the same time there should be no deviations from normal journalistic behaviour and activities or from the provisions governing journalist visas that are issued. We hope that Chinese authorities facilitate the continued presence of Indian journalists working and reporting from China.”

The spokesperson said that both sides were in touch about the issue.

On Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning alleged that the Indian government had reduced the period of validity of visas held by Chinese journalists in India to three months or even one month without any valid reason.

She added that the Indian side had also refused to review and approve Chinese journalists’ applications for stationing in India since 2020. According to Ning, the number of Chinese journalists in India has plummeted from 14 to just one.

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.