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Stapled visa and its applicability

Published: 3rd Aug, 2023

Context

Recently, India withdrew its eight-athlete wushu contingent from the Summer World University Games beginning in Chengdu, after China issued stapled visas to three athletes from the team who belong to Arunachal Pradesh.

  • Wushu is the Chinese term for ‘martial arts’.

Two hundred and twenty-seven Indian athletes are participating in 11 other sports at the games that are held every two years, and are officially known as the FISU World University Games.

About the Issue:

  • China has made it a practice to issue stapled visas to Indian nationals from Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
  • It says the visas are valid documents, but the Government of India has consistently refused to accept this position.
  • The stapled visas for Jammu and Kashmir residents appear to have started around 2008-09.
  • In 2013, The New York Times published an account of a Kashmiri man who claimed he had been issued a stapled visa by the Chinese embassy in New Delhi and had been stopped at the airport in September 2009.
  • As part of these efforts, it issues lists of Chinese names for places in Arunachal Pradesh — it has issued three such lists in 2017, 2021, and in April this year — and takes steps such as issuing stapled visas.
  • In April 2023, India outrightly rejected China's renaming some places in Arunachal Pradesh, asserting that the state is an integral part of India and assigning "invented" names does not alter this reality.

What are Stapled visas?

  • A stapled visa is simply an unstamped piece of paper that is attached by a pin or staples to a page of the passport and can be torn off or detached at will.
  • This is different from a regular visa that is affixed to the passport by the issuing authority and stamped.

A passport is the certificate of its holder’s identity and citizenship.

China’s Interest:

  • Passports, visas, and other kinds of immigration controls reiterate the idea of a nation-state and its sovereignty which is inalienable and inviolable.
  • Since nation-states reserve the right to control and regulate who enters or leaves their borders, a passport and visa entitle their holders to travel freely and under legal protection across international borders.
  • According to the Chinese government, these ‘stapled visas’ are issued to Indian citizens from Arunachal Pradesh because it does not recognise the state as part of India. Meanwhile, New Delhi has asserted that China simply uses the ‘stapled visa’ as a political tool to affirm its claim over Arunachal Pradesh, which has always been a part of India.
  • China makes periodic efforts to underline this unilateral claim to Indian Territory, and to undermine the sovereignty of India over parts of Indian Territory.

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