The Times of India newspaper said the move by New Delhi was retaliation after Beijing refused a visa to a leading Indian general who oversees operations in the disputed northwestern region of Kashmir.
The Indian foreign ministry confirmed that the general’s visit had not taken place “due to certain reasons” and called on China to show more “sensitivity.” It gave no details about any response by New Delhi.
B.S. Jaswal, an Indian lieutenant general responsible for the state of Jammu and Kashmir, had intended to travel to China in August for a high-level defence exchange between the countries.
Beijing responded by saying he was not welcome because he controlled a disputed area, which China claims in part, the Times of India said in a front-page story.
“An angry New Delhi shot off an strongly worded demarche to Beijing, protesting its decision,” the newspaper said, without quoting sources.
“Soon thereafter, Delhi refused permission to two Chinese defence officials to come to India… A subsequent visit by Indian military officials to China was also cancelled by India,” it said.
The short Indian foreign ministry statement made no reference to India’s response but underlined that “useful” defence exchanges had taken place in recent years.
“While we value our exchanges with China, there must be sensitivity to each others’ concerns,” it said. “Our dialogue with China on these issues is ongoing.”
China-India ties are wracked by suspicion and mistrust, largely due to unresolved border disputes in India’s northwest and northeast, a short war in 1962 and the presence of Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in India.
China is also a close ally of Pakistan — India’s regional foe — supplying investment, industry know-how and weapons, including missile technology, according to New Delhi.
Last year, New Delhi was angered by the Chinese practice of issuing visas on separate pieces of paper for Kashmiris which were then stapled into their passports.
The practice resulted in many Kashmiris being prevented by Indian immigration officials from boarding their flights on the grounds that the visas were not valid.
Other Indians receive a stamp in their passport when applying for visas to travel to China.
Kashmir has been the trigger for two out of the three wars fought between India and Pakistan and is today administered jointly but claimed in full by both. China claims part of the region should be part of Tibet.