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India’s visa issuance to Chinese nationals has witnessed a dramatic drop since the 2020 Galwan border conflict. This policy shift, driven by national economic security concerns, comes amid ongoing trade imbalances.

Prior to the Galwan clash and the pandemic, India granted roughly 200,000 visas to Chinese nationals in 2019. However, a reevaluation of Chinese investments in India led to a drastic decrease, with only 2,000 visas issued in 2024. Over the past eight months, the number has slightly inched up to 1,500, primarily catering to the electronics industry’s needs.

Despite stricter visa policies, India grapples with a significant trade deficit with China. In the first five months of 2024, the deficit surpassed $38 billion. India’s exports to China remain low at $8.93 billion (January-May 2024), while imports from China stand at a staggering $47 billion.

The electronics industry expresses concerns about job losses due to visa restrictions on Chinese personnel. However, official data paints a different picture. India’s merchandise exports surged by over 9% in May 2024, with electronics exports leading the charge. This growth, partly attributed to the PLI (Production Linked Incentive) scheme, saw electronics exports reach $29.12 billion in FY 2024, a significant increase from the previous year.

The post-Galwan scrutiny of Chinese investments exposed instances of regulatory violations. Telecom giants like Vivo faced accusations of tax evasion and illegal fund transfers to China, leading to investigations by the Enforcement Directorate. Vivo has refuted these claims, stating their commitment to legal recourse.