Beijing, January 19
Thousands of Indian and international students studying in Chinese universities, who are unable to return to the country due to COVID-19 curbs, have appealed to the government to lift the travel ban and permit them to return to resume their studies.
In an open letter posted on Facebook, the students said the Chinese government has suspended all resident permits and visas for international students from March last year due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Beijing has also insisted that international students should continue with online classes in view of the second wave of the virus in the country.
Over 4.40 lakh foreign students from various parts of the world studied in China, including about 25,000 from India, mostly studying medicine in various Chinese medical colleges.
Citing COVID-19 restrictions, China has been advising students to continue with online classes. The students, however, said that with the majority of them studying science subjects, they need access to laboratories.
They said their scholarships have also been suspended without giving any reason which has caused great difficulty to many.
The students, in the letter, urged the Chinese government to permit them to return after following all COVID-19 protocols including the necessary tests and quarantine procedures.
Asked for her response to the foreign students’ letter, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, “the COVID pandemic is raging across the world and countries have formulated their epidemic prevention measures based on their national conditions. I believe people can understand that and practice that,” she said.
She said China attaches high importance to the protection of the rights of the overseas students.
“We request the universities and the colleges to stay in communication with them and ensure the courses online and any other format,” she said.
To a specific question about the plight of Indian students, especially those from the medical field who spent a great deal of money, Hua said, “I totally understand this situation including the difficulties faced by the Indian students. Indeed, such problems widely exist globally.
“Many Chinese students spend much money on overseas studies but due to COVID-19 and they still cannot resume their studies overseas and they have to take online courses,” she said.
“We are seeing the reality of the rising of the second wave of COVID-19 across the world. And countries are formulating their anti-epidemic prevention measures according to the situation on ground. And our purpose is to protect the safety and health of overseas students. Chinese universities are required to handle their legitimate concerns,” she said.
China is facing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. Eleven Chinese regions are under de facto lockdown amid the relapse of the coronavirus infections.
China has recorded over 88,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 4,600 deaths. — PTI