Taking strong exception to China denying accreditation to some Indian sportspersons from Arunachal Pradesh for Hangzhou Asian Games, India on Friday lodged a strong protest, and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur cancelled his scheduled visit to China for the Games.
This is the second instance in two months that the same three players were unable to visit China for a competition. On Wednesday, the three women wushu players — Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega, and Mepung Lamgu — received their accreditation cards from Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee, which also acts as an entry visa.
However, they could not download their travel document on Wednesday when they were scheduled to leave for the Asian Games, while the rest of the players did not face any issues. Beijing claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of China.
Making India’s stand clear here on Friday, Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi said New Delhi reserves the right to take “suitable measures” to safeguard its interests.
Terming the act of denial of accreditation as discriminatory behaviour by China, he also said Information and Broadcasting and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur has cancelled his visit.
Describing the Chinese action as targeting of the sportspersons in a “premeditated” manner, Bagchi said the move violates both the spirit of the Asian Games and the rules governing their conduct as they “explicitly prohibits discrimination” against competitors from member states.
He said a “strong protest” has been lodged against China’s “deliberate and selective obstruction” of some of India’s sportspersons.
“The Government of India has learnt that the Chinese authorities have, in a targeted and premeditated 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,” Bagchi said.
“In line with our long-standing and consistent position, India firmly rejects differential treatment of Indian citizens on the basis of domicile or ethnicity. Arunachal Pradesh was, is and will always remain an integral and inalienable part of India,” he said.
Bagchi said India reserves the right to take “suitable measures to safeguard our interests”. He also said “China’s action violates both the spirit of the Asian Games and the rules governing their conduct, which explicitly prohibits discrimination against competitors from member states.”
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, who served as the former sports minister, condemned China’s action and said it is a “violation of the spirit of sports” as well as the “violation of rules governing the conduct of Asian Games”. He also asserted that Arunachal Pradesh is not a disputed territory but an inalienable part of India.
“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,” Rijiju wrote on X.
He added, “…Entire people of Arunachal Pradesh resolutely oppose any illegal claim of China on its land and people. The International Olympic Committee should reign in China’s illegitimate action.”
Meanwhile, in response to reports about Indian players being denied entry to China, the country’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning on Friday said, “As the host country, China welcomes athletes from all countries to come to Hangzhou to participate in the Asian Games with legal documents.”
“As to the so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’, the Chinese government doesn’t recognise it. Zangnan (southern part of Southwest China’s Xizang Autonomous Region) is part of China’s territory,” Ning said.
Chairman of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Ethics Committee Wei Jizhong has claimed that Indian athletes were not denied visas to enter China for the upcoming Asian Games. In fact, Chinese authorities have claimed that the athletes did not accept the visas after they were issued the travel documents.