Concerned about Indian students unable to return to China to resume studies: MEA

Published on Apr 29, 2022 12:00 AM IST

There has been no word from China on allowing the return of Indian students but on April 21, Beijing did allow a batch of students from Sri Lanka to return to their campuses to resume in-person learning.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the Indian side was concerned about the plight of Indian students enrolled in Chinese institutions (HT Photo)
External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the Indian side was concerned about the plight of Indian students enrolled in Chinese institutions (HT Photo)

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday expressed concern over thousands of Indian students being unable to resume their studies in China and said they should benefit from mechanisms being put in place by Chinese authorities for the return of foreign scholars.

Thousands of Indian students, most of them enrolled in medical courses, have been unable to return to universities in China because of Covid-19-related travel restrictions put in place by Beijing. There has been no word from China on allowing the return of Indian students but on April 21, Beijing did allow a batch of students from Sri Lanka to return to their campuses to resume in-person learning.

Reports have suggested that the matter is linked to the border standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at the Line of Actual Control since early 2020 – a development that has taken bilateral relations to an all-time low. Ties between the two countries worsened after 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops were killed in a clash at Galwan Valley in June 2020.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a weekly media briefing that the Indian side was concerned about the plight of the students, especially at a time when there were reports of students from other countries being allowed back into China.

The Indian side, he said, had raised the matter during Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s recent visit to New Delhi and requested the Chinese government to look at the situation in the context of the difficulties being faced by the Indian students. However, there was “no update” from the Chinese though India remains focused on the issue, he said.

“If the Chinese are looking at options of how they can get students in, I sincerely hope that Indian students would also benefit from those mechanisms,” he said.

At the same time, Bagchi ruled out any immediate resumption in issuing tourist visas to Chinese citizens.

“You are all aware of the Covid situation in Chinese cities like Shanghai and elsewhere. I don’t think this is an opportune moment to discuss the resumption of issuance of tourist visas from China. You are also aware that China has suspended issuance of most types of visas to Indians since November 2020,” he said.

Following the withdrawal of frontline troops from the north and south banks of Pangong Lake and Gogra, India and China have been unable to agree on disengagement and de-escalation at other friction points along the LAC in Ladakh despite several rounds of diplomatic and military talks.

According to China’s education ministry, until the end of 2018, 4,92,185 international students from 196 countries and regions were studying in China.

With 23,198 students, India was fourth on the list of a country-wise breakup of students studying in China. South Korea with more than 50000 students topped it followed by Thailand and Pakistan with over 28000 students each studying in China.

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