NEW DELHI: Keen to send the right signals to China in the diplomatic build-up to its membership bid at the Nuclear Suppliers Group, India has relaxed key security conditions for the northern neighbour in recent months indicating that there’s a good chance Beijing could drop off India’s blacklist.
Over the past month, most visa categories for Chinese nationals have been removed from the Prior Referral Category (PRC) list. This is a sort of a blacklist of about half-a-dozen countries which includes Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, North Korea and Iran. Beijing has resented this clubbing, but Indian security agencies have refused to concede ground in the past.
Further, fast-track clearances have been put in place for two Chinese industrial parks that are likely to come up in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The Modi regime is keen to ease the visa process for Chinese visitors. The Centre has already taken out tourist and conference visas from mandatory security clearances required for countries in the PRC list. Removal of research visas is also under consideration and could be through in the next few weeks, said officials.
This leaves only business and employment visas. On this too, a common protocol is being worked out under the BRICS regime for businesspersons. Employment visas may be the last to go. Effectively, a senior home ministry source said, China is almost out of the PRC list.
Last week, the home ministry allowed Chinese sailors to leave their ships and visit port cities where they are docked, just like any other sailor. This was a major issue for China as its sailors had to be holed up in their ships during the time they remained berthed in India. ET had first reported that the proposal was under active consideration.
In the past year, 21 Chinese companies have been given security clearances which, home ministry sources pointed out, is more than US proposals — which add up to 19. A time bar has also been put in place to ensure Chinese business interests don’t suffer due to security procedures.
The latest to join the list are TBEA Energy and Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation. Security clearances were earlier granted to Huawei, China Shougang International Trade & Engineering Corporation, ZTE and FiberHome Technologies Group.
The two countries have also drawn up plans to sign an agreement on cooperation in security matters that will include better coordination among security agencies and antitrafficking units.