The Indian government has delayed issuing visas to Chinese delegates for an India-China business forum, which was scheduled to take place in the capital city of New Delhi later this week.
According to English daily The Indian Express, citing sources, the organisers were told last Friday by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs that they could not issue the visas without approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The 70-member Chinese delegation had reportedly applied for visas weeks ago but had not received them yet.
"The organisers, who appear to have had government backing for previous editions of the forum, tried to push the visas for the Chinese delegates until the last minute but, have been told that they will not be issued for now," the report said citing sources.
With delegates booked on flights leaving China over the next two days, and no hope for the visas to be issued over the weekend, organisers decided to call off the event.
The International Business Linkage Forum (IBLF), the India-based organisers of the forum along with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), announced on their website that they had to cancel the meet on 13 and 14 November "due to unforeseen circumstances."
This comes days after India's refusal to join the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in its present form.
The Indian government has expressed its concern over the rising trade deficit with China and other countries that constitute the RCEP. As per a commerce ministry document, India's trade deficit with China accounts for $53 billion.
The two countries are involved in a slew of territorial and boundary issues as well, particularly after the Indian parliament revoked Article 370 of the Constitution in August of this year, ending the special status accorded to Jammu & Kashmir.
Parliament also divided the state into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, which shares a long stretch of border with China.
China believes this division is aimed at challenging its territorial claim to the Ladakh region which is currently disputed by India.