China said on Wednesday it had taken "appropriate" action in response to what it called India's "unfair and discriminatory" treatment of Chinese journalists, in the latest move that underscores rising tensions between the Asian countries.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that China and India have expelled nearly all of each other's journalists in recent weeks.
The Indian government in May rejected visa renewals for the last two Chinese state media journalists in the country, the newspaper said. One works for Xinhua and the other works for China Central Television.
Indian outlets had four journalists still based inside China, but at least two of them haven't been granted visas to return to the country, the Journal said. A third was told that his accreditation had been revoked, but he is still in China.
Relations between the world's two most populous countries have worsened since a deadly clash on the contested Sino-Indian border in 2020.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Chinese reporters had been treated unfairly in India for years.
"What I can tell you is that for a long time, Chinese journalists have suffered unfair and discriminatory treatment in India, and in 2017, the Indian side shortened the visa validity of Chinese journalists to three months or even one month for no reason," Mao Ning, the spokesperson, said at a briefing.
"In the face of this prolonged and unreasonable suppression by the Indian side, the Chinese side had to take appropriate countermeasures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese media," Mao said.
"The visa of the last remaining Chinese journalist in India has also expired," she said.
Ananth Krishnan, a correspondent for India's The Hindu, tweeted on Wednesday, "We're down to only one accredited Indian reporter in Beijing - and unfortunately, probably zero soon."
Mao said a return to normal was contingent on "whether India can work in the same direction as China, and provide the same convenience and assistance to Chinese journalists in India."
India's Washington embassy did not immediately respond to a VOA email requesting comment.
This is not the first time China has engaged in a tit-for-tat spat over journalist visas. Beijing expelled several U.S. journalists in 2020 after Washington moved to limit the number of Chinese state media reporters in the United States.
Neither China nor India is a particularly staunch defender of press freedom within its own borders. Out of 180 countries, India ranks at No. 161 in terms of press freedom, and China ranks at No. 179, according to the media freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders.
Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse and Reuters.