BEIJING/NEW DELHI, Oct 14 (IANS): China on Monday said it regretted that two Indian archers from the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh were unable to travel to China for a sporting event and defended its policy of issuing stapled visas to the athletes as "consistent and clear cut".
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, addressing a regular briefing in Beijing, said: "We regret that the two young India athletes could not come to participate in the relevant competition."
She defended the measure of giving stapled visas to people from Arunachal Pradesh, saying: "China's position on the east end of the boundary between China and India is consistent and clear cut."
"China's practice with regard to the visa is a flexible move pending the resolution of the boundary question. This shows China's sincerity and flexibility," she said.
"We hope the Indian side can work with the Chinese side and maintain the sound momentum of personnel exchange and cooperation across the board," Hua said.
China lays claim to Arunachal Pradesh and considers it "disputed" territory.
India had on Saturday lodged a strong protest with China on the issuance of stapled visas to Maselo Mihu and Sorang Yumi. The two were part of a 24-member Indian squad. They were to travel to Wuxi, in southern China, for an Oct 13-20 youth world championship tournament.
The Archery Association of India (AAI) Friday denounced China for giving stapled visas to the two archers, calling it as an affront to India's sovereignty and integrity.
The Chinese embassy has issued stapled visas for Indian citizens hailing from Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh in the past.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is slated to visit China later this month.