In Beijing, PM Modi announces e-visas for Chinese nationals
In a confidence building measure, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced that India will grant e-visas to Chinese tourists.
Beijing: In a confidence building measure, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced that India will grant e-visas to Chinese tourists.
"We have decided to extend electronic tourist visas to Chinese nationals," Modi said addressing students and faculty at the prestigious Tsinghua University here.
Hours before the Prime Minister's announcement, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar had said "no decision has been taken yet" on granting e-visas to Chinese tourists.
When asked about extending e-visa facility to Chinese tourists, Jaishankar on Friday morning said, "We are expanding it bit-by-bit. With regard to China, no decision has been taken yet."
Addressing the gathering at the university, 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.
"So, we have decided to extend electronic tourist visas to Chinese nationals. We are celebrating the Year of India in China in 2015," he added.
Surprisingly Modi chose to announce this significant initiative in his address to the university and not during his joint appearance for the press with Premier Li Keqiang.
The announcement came in the teeth of strong opposition from the Home Ministry and security agencies over security concerns of its misuse, while the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of tourism pressed for it.
Ahead of his China visit which began yesterday, the decision to grant e-visas was left to Modi to decide.
THis year, India has announced 'Visit India Year' in China to attract more tourists in order to boost tourism revenues.
While less than two lakh Chinese visit India, more Chinese travellers are visiting Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives enhancing their tourism revenues. Last year 1.4 lakh Chinese visited Nepal, an increase of 70 per cent. While over four lakh Chinese visited Maldives, 1.3 lakh visited Sri Lanka, and increase of 130 per cent.
China has proposed Buddhist circuit connecting China, Nepal and Sri Lanka to attract more tourists.
China has a large Buddhist population. They are keen to visit Buddhist sites in India like Nalanda.
The e-visa announcement was seen as a prelude to India relaxing investment norms to China to attract large scale Chinese investors.
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