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China’s Stapled Visas


Recently, India withdrew its eight-athlete ‘Wushu’ martial arts athletes contingent from the Summer World University Games in Chengdu, China. The move came in response to China’s issuance of stapled visas to three athletes from the Indian team, all of whom were from Arunachal Pradesh.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are Stapled Visas?
  2. Reasons for China Issuing Stapled Visas to Indian Nationals from Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir
  3. Impacts and Concerns Regarding Stapled Visas

What are Stapled Visas?

Stapled visas are travel documents issued by China, where an unstamped piece of paper is attached to a passport using staples or a pin.

  • Difference from Regular Visas: Unlike regular visas that are affixed and stamped directly on the passport, stapled visas can be detached.
  • Territorial Disputes: China’s issuance of stapled visas is linked to its ongoing territorial disputes with India, particularly concerning Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Validity Dispute: While China considers stapled visas as valid travel documents, India does not accept them as legitimate visas and refuses to acknowledge their authenticity.

Reasons for China Issuing Stapled Visas to Indian Nationals from Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir

  • Dispute over Sovereignty and Boundary: China challenges India’s sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh and disputes the legitimacy of the McMahon Line agreed upon in the Simla Convention of 1914.
  • Boundary Transgressions: The Line of Actual Control (LAC) disagreement leads to repeated Chinese transgressions into Indian territory, further complicating the dispute.
  • Claims on Arunachal Pradesh: China claims approximately 90,000 sq km of Arunachal Pradesh as part of its territory and uses Chinese names for places in the region on its maps.
  • Undermining India’s Sovereignty: Issuing stapled visas is seen as a tactic by China to challenge India’s control and authority over parts of its own territory.
  • Unilateral Assertion: China’s actions periodically underline its unilateral claim to Indian territory, fueling tensions between the two countries.

Impacts and Concerns Regarding Stapled Visas

  • Confusion and Uncertainty: Stapled visas create confusion and uncertainty for travellers as the acceptance and validity of such visas vary. Travellers may face difficulties and uncertainties at immigration checkpoints.
  • Rejection by India: India consistently rejects the validity of stapled visas issued by China. The Indian government does not recognize these visas as legitimate travel documents.
  • Diplomatic Tensions: China’s issuance of stapled visas and India’s rejection of them contribute to diplomatic tensions between the two nations. It adds strain to their bilateral relations and complicates the resolution of territorial disputes.
  • Challenging Sovereignty: China’s practice of issuing stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir is seen as an attempt to challenge India’s sovereignty over these regions, further escalating the tensions.
  • Impact on People-to-People Contacts: The use of stapled visas can hinder people-to-people contacts between India and China, affecting cultural and educational exchanges, tourism, and other activities involving citizens of both countries.

-Source: The Hindu


February 2024