India has once again sought to draw particular attention to the plight of around 30,000 students enrolled in Chinese higher education institutions who have been hit hard by the curbs and controls that the pandemic has brought on.
In a latest move, India’s ambassador to China, Vikram Misri has raised the issue during a discussion forum with Chinese government officials, industry representatives, and members of think tanks. Speaking at the 7th China And Globalization Forum in Beijing, Misri said travel restrictions have hurt the students terribly. He said that the first step to sustain in a post-pandemic world is to learn to live in the world as it is now. The pandemic may be the most serious one in living memory, but it should not be seen as the last one.
“We need to follow a more sustainable path when it comes to addressing current realities and also while looking at the future. A path that is not dependent on massive and repetitive lockdowns, crushing travel restrictions that have impacted students particularly badly and an intense undercurrent of suspicion about everything,” Misri said. The forum was organised by the Centre For China and Globalization, a Chinese think tank.
India had also sought ‘two-way’ travel with China recently, with the ministry of external affairs (MEA) raising concerns over the denial of student visas.
Despite the suspension of flights, Chinese citizens have been able to travel to India. However, Indian nationals have been facing issues on being able to travel to China, with Beijing having suspended the existing visas. The MEA is hopeful that the Chinese embassy will be in a position to issue visas soon to Indians who have met the necessary conditions.
The government also accepted that it is aware of the problems being faced by Indian students, particularly those pursuing medical education in China, and their inability to return to campuses to complete their studies. It is actively pursuing the issues faced by students enrolled in foreign universities and those unable to travel.
In a ray of hope for students, earlier in March, the Chinese embassy had issued a notification regarding facilitation of visas for those taking Chinese-made vaccines. However, despite many of the students applying accordingly and meeting conditions, they were unable to get visas or extensions.
Though the country has indicated that it might allow students from countries such as South Korea and the United States to return to campuses, there is no clarity about the plans for Indian students.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has reiterated that the country will analyse the issue of return of foreign students in a coordinated manner, and the priority is to ensure safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.