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Visa row: Indian military team's China visit called off

India has called off the visit of a 30-member military delegation to China after Beijing refused a visa to a senior Indian Air Force officer who belongs to Arunachal Pradesh, a defence ministry source said Friday.

"I can confirm that the visit has been called off," the source said.

Group Captain Panging, identified by his surname only, was part of the team scheduled to travel to Beijing from Jan 10, but his visa was denied by the Chinese embassy here without any reasons, the source said.

The 30-member team of the IAF, the army and the navy was to travel to China on a four-day visit for a bilateral defence exchange programme.

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as its territory and has been denying visa to those hailing from the northeastern state despite protests by India.

The denial of visa came close on the heels of a controversy over threats to two Indian traders involved in a financial dispute in the Chinese city of Yiwu.

Sources said the visa was denied by the Chinese embassy here without any reasons. The team was expected to be in Beijing, Nanjing and Shanghai.

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as its territory and has been denying visa to those hailing from the northeastern state despite protests by India.

Beijing has also been denying visas to Jammu and Kashmir residents, sparking a diplomatic row between the two sides.

This is the second time that India has called off its military delegation trip to China. In 2010, the Chinese embassy had denied a visa to then Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal, then head of the Northern Command because he was serving in Jammu and Kashmir.

The visit of the military team Jaswal was leading was cancelled and India also temporarily called off its defence exchanges with China.

However, the defence exchanges resumed after India sent a delegation in June last year.

The defence team was visiting China as part of confidence building measures between the two sides and comes after a similar one by the Chinese military commanders last month.

Two Indian traders, who were holed up in a hotel in Yiwu, were released Wednesday after the Indian consulate intervened. They had been held captive by locals in Yiwu, a trading hub of China, as their Yemeni boss was absconding after erring on payment of dues running into millions of dollars.

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