Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran of southern India’s Kerala state was denied permission by India’s Ministry of External Affairs last week to attend the 22nd session of the General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization held in Chengdu, China, from Monday to Saturday. Kerala Chief Minister Vijayan said that the state is disappointed at the denial of opportunity in promoting its tourism at an international forum.
Personnel exchanges seem to be the most disrupted part of China-India exchanges. After the Doklam standoff ended two weeks ago, Indian Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu Saturday called for greater Chinese investment in his country. But his invitation was received by doubts of Chinese who were struck by Indian organizations’ calls for boycotts of Chinese products during the standoff. While India’s Ministry of External Affairs denied permission for the Indian official to visit China, it appears that New Delhi still holds a grudge against its neighbor.
In fact, many Chinese scholars and reporters have had similar experiences of being denied a visa just before their scheduled departure for India. Sometimes the events had therefore to be canceled. India’s Ministry of Home Affairs, responsible for such exchanges, is alarmingly vigilant in this regard. The Indian government’s refusal to extend the visas of three Chinese journalists from the Xinhua News Agency in 2016 went beyond the estimation of Chinese about India’s strict visa control concerning Chinese except for tourist visas.
While a state’s tourism minister, a post far away from national security, was stopped by New Delhi from attending a tourism conference in China, it feels that New Delhi still maintains tight control over bilateral exchanges.
China is one of the countries that has the biggest number of inbound and outbound travelers. But India has denied permission to Chinese for business more than any other country, and its refusal to allow its officials to come to China seldom happens in other countries. India seems to be more watchful about China than China is about the US. China has a standard for refusing foreigners’ entry, but India seems to be vigilant about everything.
After the Nathu-la Pass on the China-India border was reopened in 2006, many Chinese businessmen went there in the hope of thriving bilateral trade. But the pass hasn’t prospered as expected, most possibly due to India’s concerns about national security.
Indian society has to free its mind from viewing everyone its enemy. While China and the US compete with each other strategically, most Chinese don’t deem the US a potential enemy, but instead hold that China faces a challenge to handle its relations with the US. Despite China’s structural conflicts with Japan and their current strained relations, few Chinese object to improving bilateral relations.
During the Doklam standoff, many Chinese thought that China should teach India a lesson, but they are happy to see China-India relations improve after the standoff was solved.
India is obviously narrow-minded in considering China a No.1 potential enemy. Yet these two large developing countries work in multilateral organizations like the SCO and BRICS and are hence supposed to have many common interests. While India’s shelter of the Dalai Lama has posed a security threat to China, how come New Delhi conceives the threat the other way around? India’s elites really need to look at the world with fresh eyes and renewed thoughts.