China mulls ‘coordinated’ arrangement for returning foreign students, but does not commit to timeline for Indians

China said on Tuesday it was considering a “coordinated” arrangement for the return of foreign students, but remained uncommitted on a specific timetable to allow them, including more than 23,000 Indians, who have been stuck at home for two years. due to Beijing’s COVID-19 visa bans.

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Asked at a press conference on Tuesday when China will allow stranded Indian students and what prevents Beijing from allowing them, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian simply retracted what his ministry has been saying for more than a year. a year that Beijing wants an orderly return of students. according to COVID-19 safety protocols.

“I can tell you that the Chinese government attaches great importance to the issue of foreign students returning to China for their studies,” Zhao said.

“We are looking into the arrangement for foreign students to return to China for their studies in a coordinated manner. We are ready to actively work for a healthy, safe and orderly cross-border flow of people based on strong anti-epidemic protocols.” he said.

China last week promised during Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit here to “arrange” the return of around 28,000 Pakistani students who have been stuck at home for two years following visa restrictions imposed by Beijing as part of its zero COVID-19 case. Politics.

A joint statement issued on Sunday at the end of Khan’s four-day visit to China said that “while ensuring security against COVID-19, China will ensure that Pakistani students return to China and resume classes in cautious way”.

China has reportedly made similar assurances to Mongolia and Singapore, whose leaders have also traveled to Beijing to participate in the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Recently, the Sri Lankan government urged Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his visit to Colombo to allow his medical students studying in Chinese universities to return as their future was at stake.

While making these promises, Beijing has given no specific timetable to these counties for allowing students to return.

Since 2020, China has stopped issuing visas for Indians and currently there were no flights operating between the two countries.

The extension of China’s strict zero COVID-19 cases policy to thousands of foreign students, mostly studying at Chinese medical colleges, has all but ruined nearly two years of their education.

The online courses that their colleges claim to provide have made no difference to medical students who have been deprived of valuable lab lessons.

In the second month of this year, Beijing has not yet committed to a specific timetable for the return of Indian students and their South Asian counterparts, in addition to hundreds of Indian employees and businessmen. who are either stuck at home or separated from their families.

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