New Delhi: In an unusual advisory, China has cautioned its citizens travelling to India to be alert in the wake of a nationwide strike against the petroleum fuel hike last week and asked them to take precautions to ensure their safety.
The Chinese foreign ministry website as well as the Chinese embassy in New Delhi posted an advisory June 1 that warned of travel disruptions due to protests. The travel advisory was posted barely days before External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna’s June 5-7 scheduled trip to Beijing to attend the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit. Krishna leaves for Beijing Tuesday. The advisory is seen here by some as a retaliatory move against New Delhi issuing advisories warning its traders against doing business in the Chinese commodity hub of Yiwu.
Beijing has, however, denied any link. “There is no link between the two. The advisory was based on Indian media reports about the nationwide strike against fuel price hike,” Li Xiaojun, an official with the Chinese embassy in New Delhi, told IANS. The Chinese advisory, however, doesn’t ask Chinese citizens to not to travel to India but only cautions them about personal safety and to be watchful about personal belongings. No time period has been specified in the advisory.
Indian officials sought to play down the advisory, and pointed out that it was not scare-mongering, but simply a precautionary advice to Chinese who are planning to travel to India or who are already in the country. “According to Indian media reports, many places in India are witnessing protests and strikes due to the recent hike in oil prices. Railways and highway transport have either come to a halt due to strikes or have been impacted to different degrees,” the advisory said, adding: “Some shops have closed. Presently, impacted areas include: Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai,Patna in Bihar, Allahabad and Varanasi in UP, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa etc.”
“The Chinese embassy in India would like to alert the Chinese citizens about this and request them to confirm their itinerary with related agencies to avoid delays. At the same time, during this period, they should be careful about personal safety and safeguard their personal belongings,” it said. The travel advisory by China and its timing has come as a surprise to India as it comes at a time when both sides are making conscious efforts to keep bilateral ties on an even keel.