Indian students enrolled in Chinese universities have been some of the most affected international student groups. Unable to travel to China to join their universities, and with no clear indication about China’s willingness to allow Indian students to return to campuses, several of them have been approaching the Indian government and other authorities for solutions.
Many of them even staged protests at the China embassy in New Delhi last week. Around 23,000 Indian students, mostly medical students, have been demanding their return to China for the last 18 months.
India’s Ambassador to China Vikram Misri recently highlighted the importance of the issue and once again urged the Chinese government to facilitate the movement of Indian students back to China.
He called the issue a purely humanitarian context and something that needs a more balanced and sensitive approach by the Chinese government. Terming it as an unscientific approach, Misri expressed disappointment on behalf of the Indian government.
Misri had also brought up this issue at the 7th China And Globalization Forum in Beijing last month, saying travel restrictions have affected students adversely.
Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, had also stated “it is time to get students worldwide back to the classroom while ensuring their safety and health amid the pandemic. China has joined UNICEF’s call to reopen schools.”
While the Chinese government did not give any assurance or timeframe for allowing Indian students back into China, it said that it is open to working with countries, including India, after arranging for and taking the necessary steps for bilateral travel.
However, this does not mean China will resolve the issue immediately. Terming the country’s control and prevention measures toward COVID-19 as “scientific, professional and appropriate,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said it applies quarantine measures to all travelers, including its own citizens.
Indian students also wrote a letter to Sun Weidong, Chinese ambassador to India, on Sept. 27 requesting his government to resume the visa process for Indian students. They said that without the visa for almost 20 months, they are losing out on practical knowledge and internship opportunities, which are critical components for any medical student’s study and work experience.
Students also highlighted that they are suffering economic losses as well as many of them have taken hefty education loans for studying medicine and are struggling to pay the fee.
The letter also mentioned that all other foreign medical graduates enrolled in other countries are being gradually allowed to resume in-person classes, except those studying in Chinese universities and medical colleges. They urged the officials to allow them to return as they are fully vaccinated and are willing to follow all the necessary quarantine and safety measures laid down by the Chinese government.
In March, the Chinese embassy had indicated that it will facilitate visas for those taking Chinese-made vaccines but still many students faced challenges. Indian students say that though the country has hinted at allowing students from other nations such as the United States and South Korea to enter China, the situation about Indian students remains ambiguous.