Indian students get relief as China agrees to consider their return
New Delhi: In a long-awaited ray of hope for nearly 22,000 Indian students waiting for over one and a half years to get back to colleges in China, Beijing has expressed its willingness to consider their return “on a need-assessed basis”.
The Indian Embassy in Beijing on Friday tweeted a press release saying that the embassy will prepare a list of Indian students to be shared with the Chinese side, and has asked all Indian students to fill up a Google form by May 8.
It also said that the process of checking the list of Indian students would be done in coordination with the Chinese side. Beijing has also said that those students found eligible to return would have to abide by the Covid restrictions there, and agree to bear all expenses related to Covid-19 prevention measures.
China's capitulation comes a day after India refused to budge on the issue of tourist visas for Chinese nationals, citing the surge in Covid cases in Chinese cities, and said that Indian students have been unable to return to China since November 2020.
On Thursday, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, asked about India's refusal to issue tourist visas to Chinese nationals, said: “I think you are all aware of the Covid situation in Chinese cities like Shanghai and elsewhere. I don't think it is an opportune moment really to discuss the resumption of the issuance of tourist visas from China.”
He added: “We are also aware that China has suspended issuance of most types of visas to Indians since November 2020. I leave it at that.”
India has been raising the issue of the nearly 22,000 Indian students enrolled in Chinese colleges who have been unable to return for classes as Beijing has refused to issue them visas.
The issue had been raised by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during his meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Delhi on March 25.
"I took up strongly the predicament of Indian students studying in China who have not been allowed to return, citing Covid restrictions. We hope that China will take a non-discriminatory approach since it involves the future of so many young people," Jaishankar said at a media briefing shortly after the talks.
The Indian Embassy's release on Friday states: “Following the meeting of External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar with the State Councilor and Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China, Mr. Wang Yi on 25 March 2022, the Chinese side has expressed its willingness to consider facilitating the return of Indian students to China on a need-assessed basis. In order to facilitate this, the Indian Embassy intends to prepare a list of such students which will be shared with the Chinese side for their consideration. Therefore, Indian students are requested to provide necessary information by filling up the Google Form at this link latest by May 8 2022. 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. This coordination process would be carried out in a time-bound manner. The Chinese side has also conveyed that eligible students should unconditionally abide by the Covid-19 prevention measures, and agree to bear all expenses related to Covid-19 prevention measures by themselves.”
(With UNI inputs)