China may let select students return
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Sridhar Kumaraswami
New Delhi: In a major breakthrough, after New Delhi put sustained diplomatic pressure put on Beijing, China has told India that it is willing to allow Indian students to return to study in China on a "need-assessed" basis.
Thousands of Indian students enrolled in Chinese universities have been under severe stress after Beijing had refused to allow them to re-enter the country to pursue their studies in-person, after leaving amid the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago.
In a statement on Friday, the Indian Embassy in Beijing said, "Following the meeting of Indian external affairs minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar with the state councillor and foreign minister of China Mr Wang Yi on March 25, the Chinese side has expressed its willingness to consider facilitating the return of Indian students to China on a need-assessed basis. ... 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."
On its website, it added. "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 ... the latest by May 8. 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."
India had been concerned that China had not allowed thousands of Indian students back to resume their classes in-person there. What added to the anxieties of Indian students were media reports that China is allowing students from Pakistan and Sri Lanka back.
Asked on Thursday about whether India felt that there was discrimination by the Chinese authorities against Indian students, the ministry of external affairs in New Delhi did not give a direct answer. Asked about the plight of such Indian students, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said, "We understand their pain", adding that New Delhi had been taking up the matter with Beijing. "This (the concerns and anxiety of Indian students) is exactly what we have been sharing with the Chinese side," he added.
India had on Thursday said tourist visas of Chinese nationals had been "frozen" in March 2020, due to the pandemic and that there had been no resumption since. New Delhi had said that it was "not an opportune moment" to resume these visas of Chinese nationals in view of the Covid situation in Chinese cities. Interestingly, India had also pointed out that China too had "suspended issue of most types of visas to Indians since November 2020".