But the artificiality of the claim was evident a day earlier on Wednesday when New Delhi's Chinese embassy denied visa to a member of the delegation from Arunachal Pradesh. China claims Arunachal as a part of its territory and has often denied visas to residents from the northeastern state.
Sports affairs ministry secretary Nita Chowdhury, head of the delegation, justified the decision to go ahead with the trip despite Beijing's snub saying there was nothing they could do as "visas were issued just before we were to depart for the airport". "The visas were given at the last moment. There was no time to do anything," she said.
Sources said the ministry of external affairs (MEA) is unhappy with the way the sports ministry handled the issue. Given Beijing's prickliness, no one from Arunachal should have been included in the team, or following the refusal, the trip could have been called off, sources said.
Govt not told of visa denial
Chowdhury said she would inform the ministry of external affairs about the incident. But the sports ministry wasn't informed at least for a day about the refusal.
A karate player from Arunachal Pradesh ? which China claims is its territory ? was refused visa last year and the visit of a delegation of civil servants was cancelled after an officer from the state was refused a Chinese visa.
In Beijing, Jia Xiudong, a senior researcher from the state-run China Institute of International Studies, gave a presentation to the delegation and tried his best to convince the team about his country's position on the boundary dispute. He rubbished the "string of pearls" theory and emphasize that China was not interested in encircling India by getting access to the Indian Ocean and building influence in countries like Nepal and Myanmar.
Chowdhury praised the presentation. "They were very transparent. They said they accepted there was a boundary dispute. But they have resolved a border dispute with Russia and wanted to do the same with India," she said.