The Chinese practice of Stapled Visa and Assam

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India ChinaBy- Dilip Dutta

Generally speaking the practice of issuance of stapled visas is to protect the carrier of the passport when the person visits a country where a mutual state of hostility exists between two countries. The host country issues the visa in a separate piece of paper and when the person enters that country the immigration formalities are confined to the stapled page which is taken off the visitor’s passport at the point of exit from that country leaving no record of the passport bearer visiting the country; so that, the authorities in his/her country of origin do not harass him/her. For instance, the countries which do this most for US citizens are Cuba, Iran, Syria and North Korea. Earlier, before ties were normalized, this was done with China and Vietnam.

But this appears not to be the case in case of China issuing stapled visas to some Indian passport holders.

China has been issuing stapled visas to Kashmiris under Indian administration have been well established and the reason is crystal clear from the following message from the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s, “The Indian administration of Jammu and Kashmir is contested, so we will not directly stamp your passport. Stamping your passport would imply recognition of this situation. Instead, we will provide you with a stapled visa.”

Despite the earlier clarification by China that indigenous Arunachalis do not require a visa to visit China as they recognise the area as Nan Zang or Southern Tibet, as Chinese Territory. Despite this clearly held position a year ago Abraham Techi, President of Arunachal Weightlifting Federation, deciding to apply for a visa to travel to China submitting an Indian Passport, he was issued a stapled visa. He then went to enquire the reason of doing so at the Chinese Embassy and was apparently told that the stapled visa was the right document and he will have to travel on the same if he had to.

I totally understand the above response by the Chinese Embassy. But, let me indulge on a little contemplation bringing in a hypothetical scenario. Let us suppose an indigenous Dai or Miao or a Monpa from so called Arunachal approaches the Chinese authorities to seek permission to travel through China without submitting an Indian Passport; would that person be issued with the usual identity document with the endorsement to travel across regions needed by all Chinese citizens? I wonder if an indigenous person of that territory would like to give it a try. It would be indeed great interest to me to see what the outcome would be.

Few days ago in one Assamese Newspaper there was a report of a student from Assam wanting to study medicine in China was stopped by the final boarding check at the door of the airplane by the duty officer spotting that the student had his Chinese Visa stapled. One need to take note that earlier check at the airport went through smoothly and he was allowed to exchange his permissible amount of Indian Rupees to RMB. The father of the student upon contacting the Chinese Embassy was told that the student was given the RIGHT visa as per the policy of the country. Unfortunately the student’s ambition in pursing medical studies has hit the buffers.

INTETRESTINGLY this news has not appeared on any other Indian news media as far as I know from negative search on Google News. WHY?

Could a blackout have been applied on this piece of news item? If so, then the Indian establishment must have been shaken like an autumn leaf. Few days after this has happened, Salman Khurshid’s very down to earth statement on 10 Dec 2012, “India will have to accept the new reality of China’s presence in areas it considers exclusive…..”(Read more at here), a news that China now viewing Assam as a disputed territory is not a small matter. For those scare mongers that the Chinese have a design to occupy Assam, I refer to the new Chinese ePassports issued since May 2012, do not include Assam as a part of China. In view of the latest action by the Dragon, it is now pretty clear that China subscribes to the Assamese Nationalist agenda and is likely to stand by the side of Assam’s sovereignty restoration quest being cognizant of the Nation’s political rights.

Some readers may be aware that on 10 August 2009, D S Rajan, Director, Chennai Centre for China Studies produced a piece upon translating from www.iiss.cn August8, 2009 titled “China should break up India : Chinese strategist” contains a very important direction of possible Chinese policy at that juncture, as, the article appears to have suggested that China should support ‘In particular, the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) in Assam, a territory neighboring China, can be helped by China so that Assam realises its national independence’. Readers should be able to retrieve this article from this site : here.

As for my part, although I am a very optimistic person, I would not count the chickens before the eggs are hatched. However, now that the ‘Stapled Visa’ policy could be viewed as the next step by China’s support for Assam; indigenous Assam should prepare herself to be a worthy companion of China of today and tomorrow.

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