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Indian students can return to China, but Beijing to issue permission on ‘need-assessed basis’

Decision comes a month after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar raised the issue with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. Thousands of Indian students are enrolled in Chinese universities.

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New Delhi: Indian students enrolled in Chinese universities, who have not been allowed back into that country since 2020 due to the pandemic, can finally return to finish their courses, but only after Beijing grants them permission on a “need-assessed basis”.  

The decision comes a month after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar raised the issue with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during their meeting in Delhi, and as the Indian government has stopped issuing visas to Chinese tourists in the wake of the deteriorating Covid situation in that country.

The Ministry of External Affairs Friday said China has “expressed its willingness to consider facilitating the return of Indian students to China on a need-assessed basis”.

The government has given a deadline of 8 May, within which students who intend to return to China need to send their details by filling up a form — shared by the Indian embassy in China on their website. The form will then be shared with the relevant Chinese authorities.

“Once the collated information is shared with the Chinese side, they would consult relevant Chinese departments to verify the list and indicate whether the identified students can travel to China to complete the course,” the Indian Embassy in Beijing said Friday.

“The Chinese side has also conveyed that eligible students should unconditionally abide by Covid-19 prevention measures, and agree to bear all expenses related to Covid-19 prevention measures by themselves,” it added.

As many as 20,000 Indian students were enrolled in various courses, including clinical medicine, at different Chinese universities before the pandemic struck, Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan had said in the Rajya Sabha last month.

These students were not allowed to return to China to finish their studies owing to the Covid lockdown, with their visas getting suspended. The matter also got aggravated due to rising acrimony between both countries due to the military stand-off at the Line of Actual Control that began in early 2020.

Also Read: Keep India-China ties on ‘right track’, says Chinese envoy, pushes for ‘win-win mentality’

Delhi pushed Beijing for ‘non-discriminatory approach’

During Wang Yi’s visit to India, Jaishankar discussed with him the “predicament of Indian students studying in China who have not been allowed to return, citing Covid restrictions”.

Delhi pushed Beijing for a “non-discriminatory approach” towards this issue as it concerns the “future” of young people.

“Minister Wang Yi assured me that he would speak to the relevant authorities on his return on this matter. He also recognised the particular concerns that medical students have in this difficult situation,” Jaishankar had told the media after meeting his Chinese counterpart.

At present, India is not allowing Chinese tourists into India. 

“You’re also aware that China has itself suspended issuing most types of visas to Indians since, I think, November 2020. So I’ll leave it at that. I don’t think it’s the most opportune time to discuss resumption of issuance of tourist visas with China, other visas are being issued,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said Thursday.

(Edited by Gitanjal Das)

Also Read: Wang Yi’s India visit was China trying to return to diplomatic status quo, says MIT prof Fravel


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