NEW DELHI: In a tit-for-tat move amid an intensifying media row, China has asked the last Indian journalist operating in the country to leave by the end of the month.
India had four reporters based in China this year. Two were barred from returning in April after their visas were “frozen”, and another journalist left Beijing last week.
The last Indian reporter in China, from the Press Trust of India news agency, will leave this month when his visa expires, as per a Bloomberg report.
This will leave India without a media presence in the world’s second largest economy.
‘No limitations on journalists in India’
Refuting Beijing’s allegations that Chinese journalists had been accorded “unfair arrangements” in India, foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi recently said that “all foreign journalists, including Chinese journalists, have been pursuing journalistic activities in India without any limitations or difficulties in reporting or doing media coverage”.

Bagchi said Indian journalists in China, however, had been operating with certain difficulties “such as not being permitted to hire locals as correspondents or journalists”.
“As you know, foreign media can, and do, freely hire local journalists to work for their bureaus in India but China has not allowed this. In addition, Indian journalists also face several restrictions while getting access and travelling locally,” he added.
What triggered the row?
According to media reports, the row was triggered after Beijing barred Indian journalists operating in China from hiring local correspondents or even travelling locally.
Beijing imposed measures limiting employment to three individuals at a time who must come from a pool provided by the Chinese authorities, said the Bloomberg report. India doesn’t have a cap on hiring.
Tit-for-tat move
Calling the move “appropriate action”, Beijing has said it took the decision to expel the journalists after India took similar action last month against two Chinese state media journalists in Delhi.
New Delhi had rejected visa renewal applications from two journalists from Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television.
India had approved temporary visas for Chinese state media reporters visiting for a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation foreign ministers’ meeting in May.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said there was one Chinese journalist left in India, who was still awaiting renewal of visa.
Our journalists treated unfairly: China
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Monday alleged that in recent years “Chinese journalists in India have been accorded unfair and discriminatory arrangements”.
“We hope that India will continue to issue visas for Chinese journalists and remove the unreasonable restrictions and create favourable conditions for media exchanges,” Wang said.
Wang said India had not approved new visas for Chinese journalists since 2020, resulting in a drop from 14 to only one Chinese correspondent there.
“It is very unfortunate that nothing has been done on the Indian side,” he said, adding: “China is ready to act on the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit to keep in communications with the Indian side, and we hope that India will meet China halfway.”
Relations between India and China have been souring since a deadly military clash along the Line of Actual Control in 2020.
China in media row with US and Australia too
China and the US have also been in a years-long dispute over journalist visas.
After the Donald Trump administration designated a handful of Chinese media companies as “foreign missions” and put caps on the number of Chinese journalists in the country, Beijing responded by revoking press credentials for reporters at US media companies.
In 2020, two Australian journalists based in China fled the country as diplomatic tensions worsened between the two nations.
The two men were initially banned from leaving and spent five days under consular protection until Australian diplomats could negotiate their departure.
That year, Beijing accused Canberra of raiding the homes of Chinese state-media staff and seizing their property.
(With inputs from agencies)

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