Chinese nationals traveling to India can now apply online under new visa rules announced Friday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to China. Under the change, Chinese tourists will no longer have to line up at an Indian embassy or consulate to get tourist visas for India, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Modi's announcement comes amid growing relations between India and China and underscores India's eagerness to increase tourism from throughout Asia. “We must seek inspiration from the pilgrims of the ancient times who braved the unknown in search of knowledge and enriched us both,” Mr. Modi said in a speech to students at Tsinghua University in Beijing. “So, we have decided to extend electronic tourist visas to Chinese nationals."
More than 168,000 Chinese nationals visited India in 2012, compared with more than 610,000 Indians who traveled to China, excluding Hong Kong, according to the Brookings Institution, an American think tank. In recent years, India has expanded its online visa program to include 44 nations. The U.S., Australia, Japan, Germany and Russia are all included in the program. The online visa application form takes three days to process.
Meanwhile, Modi told Chinese officials Friday that they must embrace a more positive relationship between the two nations. China and India have scuffled in the past over long-running border disputes, a heavy trade imbalance in China’s favor, and China’s coziness with Pakistan, India’s rival, reported the New York Times.
“I stressed the need for China to reconsider its approach on some of the issues that hold us back from realizing full potential of our partnership,” Modi said in remarks broadcast live by Indian television stations. “I suggested that China should take a strategic and long-term view of our relations.”
Modi also thanked the Chinese government for vowing to open a route through Chinese territory for Hindu pilgrims traveling to Mount Kailash, believed to be the home of the Hindu god Shiva.