India Chinese journalists
Indian government refuses to extend visa of three journalists working for China's state-run Xinhua news agencyKim Kyung Hoon/Reuters

A leading Beijing mouthpiece has warned India of "serious consequences" after New Delhi refused to extend the visas of three Chinese journalists working for China's state-run Xinhua news agency.

An editorial carried by Global Times, the English language daily which often sharply mirrors the communist party's point of view, said it was a "petty" decision from the Narendra Modi administration. Suggesting a link with India's failed attempt to enter the elite 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the daily said: "If New Delhi is really taking revenge due to the NSG membership issue, there will be serious consequences." India had hinted at Chinese role in the denial of membership.

India had refused to extend the stay of three journalists – Wu Qiang, bureau chief who is based in New Delhi, and Mumbai-based reporters Tang Lu and Ma Qiang – after claiming they went beyond their official reporting job. The visas of all three end by July but they had sought more time until suitable replacements were found.

Responding to India's move, the Chinese state-run daily wrote: "The act has sent negative messages and media communications between China and India will inevitably be negatively impacted. India has a suspicious mind. No matter whether Chinese reporters apply for a long-term or a temporary journalist visa, they will come across many troubles."

"On the visa issue, this time, we should take actions to display our reaction. We at least should make a few Indians feel Chinese visas are also not easy to get."

There has been no official word from the Indian government on the matter except multiple sources speaking to local media hinting the journalists were engaged in "activities beyond their official work". Additionally, New Delhi has rejected speculation that this was to hit back at China over the NSG fiasco. The journalists have also not been informed why their extension is being denied.