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India rejects report of ban on Chinese airline passengers

Chinese visitors to India have been traveling via third countries that have signed bilateral travel agreements, but tensions remain high between the two nations after a military clash and trade disputes. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
Chinese visitors to India have been traveling via third countries that have signed bilateral travel agreements, but tensions remain high between the two nations after a military clash and trade disputes. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 28 (UPI) -- India is denying it issued orders to local airlines to block Chinese nationals from boarding planes, after a local report suggested the ban applies to foreigners bound for India.

The Times of India reported Monday that the Indian government had asked airlines informally to turn away Chinese passport holders at the gate. Indian crews on ships are stranded at Chinese ports amid a trade dispute between China and Australia.

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According to the Indian press report, New Delhi instructed some airlines to not fly in Chinese nationals boarding from third countries.

Direct flights between China and India have been suspended due to COVID-19, but Chinese citizens are still allowed to visit India on business if they leave from countries in the European Union and other regions that share an "air bubble," or travel agreements, with India, the report said.

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Indian airline sources said they asked local authorities to supply a written notice that could be shared with Chinese passengers. The sources also said most Chinese nationals were flying in from Europe during the pandemic, according to the report.

New Delhi denied the report Monday.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said "no such direction" came from the government, India.com reported.

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"It is wrong to make suggestions as to citizens of which country should come," the minister said. "There is no such information from our side."

Tensions remain high between the two countries as China continues to impose draconian restrictions on trading partners.

About 1,500 Indian crew members of Australian coal ships have been barred from entering Chinese ports amid a trade row. The crew has also been unable to return to India, according to India.com.

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In June, Chinese and Indian troops engaged in a deadly clash in the Galwan Valley, a disputed area of the border. India subsequently banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps, citing "national security and defense of India."

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