BEIJING: China today welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to grant e-visas to Chinese tourists saying the move will facilitate people-to-people exchanges, but remained non-committal to reciprocate the gesture, which was earlier opposed by Indian intelligence agencies.
"During his visit, Prime Minister Modi has announced issuance of e-visas for Chinese tourists. We welcome this move," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a media briefing.
Asked if China would reciprocate the gesture, Hong said: "China is willing to make joint efforts with India under the Chinese laws and regulations so as to facilitate the exchanges of China and Indian people and seek for new development."
On May 15, Modi announced the facility to Chinese tourists visiting India despite strong opposition from Home Ministry and security agencies over concerns that it could be misused.
The External Affairs Ministry and Ministry of Tourism, however had pressed for e-visas to Chinese tourists to India.
Less than two lakh Chinese tourists visited India last year against the more than six lakh Indian visitors to China.
India wants to woo Chinese tourists, whose numbers have surpassed 100 million to other countries. The e-visas are expected to boost the number of Chinese visitors to India.
Hong said the Indian Prime Minister has had "successful talks" with President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman of the National People's Congress Zhang Dejiang.
"They exchanged views on bilateral relations and comprehensive strategic partnership for peace and prosperity and reached important consensus in this regard," he said.
"They also signed 24 agreements covering different areas and the companies from the two countries signed USD 22 billion worth of agreements. We will implement important consensus reached by the two leaderships and elevate China, India relations to a new high," Hong said.