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Asian Games: India lodges protest, Anurag Thakur cancels China visit over visa denial to Arunachal players

The Ministry of External Affairs criticised China for violating the spirit of the Asian Games and the rules prohibiting discrimination against competitors from member-states.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee New Delhi Updated on: September 22, 2023 15:02 IST
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag
Image Source : PTI Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur

Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting as well as Sports, Anurag Thakur, has cancelled his visit to China owing to 'targeted, pre-mediated' discrimination against some Indian sportspersons from Arunachal Pradesh by denying them accreditation and entry ahead of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday.

"Government of India has learnt that the Chinese authorities have, in a targeted and pre-meditated manner, discriminated against some of the Indian sportspersons from the state of Arunachal Pradesh by denying them accreditation and entry to the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China," said the MEA in an official statement.

India further rejected differential treatment of Indian citizens on the basis of domicile or ethnicity and asserted that Arunachal Pradesh "was, is and will always remain an integral and inalienable part of India".

The MEA further said that India has lodged a strong protest in New Delhi and Beijing and slammed China for violating the spirit of the Asian Games and the rules prohibiting discrimination against competitors from member-states.

"Further, as a mark of our protest against the Chinese action, Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Youth Affairs and Sports of India has cancelled his scheduled visit to China for the Games. Government of India reserves the right to take suitable measures to safeguard our interests," the statement added.

Entire Arunachal population rejects China's claims: Union Minister Kiren Rijiju

Union Minister for Earth Sciences Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday strongly condemned China's decision to deny visas to sportspersons from Arunachal Pradesh, saying that the entire population of the state resolutely opposes China's claim on its land and called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to take action.

"I strongly condemn this act by China to deny visas to our Wushu Athletes from Arunachal Pradesh who were to participate in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou. This violates both the spirit of Sports & also the Rules governing the conduct of Asian Games, which explicitly prohibits discrimination against competitors from member states," he said on platform X.

"Arunachal Pradesh is not a disputed territory but inalienable part of India. Entire people of Arunachal Pradesh resolutely oppose any illegal claim of China on it's land and people. International Olympic Committee should reign in China's illegitimate action," he further said.

Matter being taken up with both governments: Olympic Council of Asia

Meanwhile, Olympic Council Of Asia's acting president Randhir Singh said that the matter has been addressed with the Working Group is being taken up with governments of both countries.

"We had a meeting yesterday with the Working Group as well and this has been taken up in the Working Group meeting. They are taking it up with the Government and we are also taking it up with the Government. It is under discussion with us as well. This is outside of what the Government to Government is happening. We are from the OCA side of it. We are doing it," he said.

Row over Arunachal sportspersons

Arunachal Pradesh's Wushu athletes have reportedly been unable to travel to China for the ongoing Asian Games in Hangzhou. The trio of Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega and Mepung Lamgu were forced to stay back in Delhi even though the other squad members did not suffer any issues and were able to travel to Hangzhou. 

As per reports, the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee has given the accreditation cards to the three athletes but their cards could not be downloaded for validation. Notably, this was not an issue for the other athletes. The trio was part of the 11-member Wushu squad that was set to leave for China on Wednesday night from the IGI Airport. 

Bhupendra Singh Bajwa, the chef-de-mission of India for the Asian Games took the issue with the Olympic Council of Asia and the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee. Earlier, the Chinese embassy in Delhi issued stapled visas to the three athletes when a 12-member contingent was to travel for the World University Games in Chengdu. The trip was called off after India lodged a strong protest at the time.

China has refused to issue stamped visas to the athletes of Arunachal Pradesh in the past too. In 2011, five karatekas from Arunachal were given stapled visas to participate in a competition in Quanzhou. In April, India outrightly rejected China's renaming some places in Arunachal Pradesh, asserting that the state is an integral part of India and assigning "invented" names does not alter this reality.

China's new 'unlawful' map

Earlier this month, China enraged New Delhi by incorporating India's integral regions such as Arunachal Pradesh, and Aksai Chin in their latest edition of the map. The so-called standard map released on the website of China’s Ministry of Natural Resources website and the social media platforms of the state news publication, Global Times, included the disputed areas including Arunachal Pradesh, Aksai Chin region, Taiwan and the disputed South China Sea under their territory. 

The map was widely criticised by several countries, including the United States, Taiwan and Vietnam. Despite several protests, China has continued to make unsubstantiated territorial claims in the South Asian region.

Earlier in April this year, the Chinese government said it would “standardise” the names of 11 places in Arunachal Pradesh. At that time, it showed parts of Arunachal inside the southern Tibetan region which the CCP government refers to as Zangnan. Besides, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs included a town close to the Arunachal Pradesh capital of Itanagar.

Notably, India, on several occasions, staunchly asserted that the state of Arunachal Pradesh has "always been" and will "always be" an integral part of the country. The latest claims came nearly ten days before the much-awaited G20 Summit in New Delhi, where the Chinese President was invited among the 42 other state heads. 

ALSO READ | China provokes India again, releases new map claiming Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as its territory


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