Beijing: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced electronic or e-visas for Chinese tourists, in a speech at a top Beijing university.
"We must seek inspiration from monks from ancient times to mingle with each other's people. That is why we are extending e-visa to China," PM Modi said towards the end of the address to students of the Tsinghua university, which is the alma mater of President Xi Jinping among others.
While he was widely expected to extend the e-visa facility to China during the visit, the Prime Minister's announcement surprised because it came only hours after India's foreign secretary S Jaishankar told reporters in response to a question, "We are increasing e-visas to more countries bit by bit, but there is no decision on China."
The Prime Minister's Office has reportedly overruled the opposition of security and intelligence agencies in its decision to grant e-visas for Chinese nationals. Security concerns have held up the move for several years.
PM Modi is in Beijing on the second leg of his three-day three-city visit to China. Yesterday he was hosted by President Xi Jinping in his home town Xian where the two leaders held talks that focused on builing "mutual trust" between the two neighbours.
After talks with Chinese premier Li Keqiang today, the PM asked China to reconsider its approach to issues that are stopping the two countries from realizing the full potential of ties.
At the university he emphasized the need to urgently resolve the long-standing border dispute with China. "We must address issues that lead to doubts, mistrust in our relationship," he said, also adding, "We must ensure that our relationship with other's country does not become an irritant for each other."