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Indian students must continue online classes, as China denied permission for flights: Indian Embassy

BEIJING: China has denied permission for India to operate chartered flights citing reinforced strict COVID-19 measures, the Indian Embassy here said, advising Indian students studying in Chinese universities to continue their online classes.

The Embassy continues to take up the matter with Chinese authorities about the Indian students but there has unfortunately been “no positive evolution of this situation”, an Embassy press release here said on Friday.

“In fact, with reports of resurgence of COVID-19 cases in China, authorities have further reinforced epidemic controls and restrictions on travel and entry into China. The suspension of visas of Indian nationals issued before November 2, 2020 is an instance of these enhanced controls,” it said.

“Chinese authorities have also denied permission for operation of any chartered flights between India and China, citing their strict control measures,” the Embassy said.

Over 23,000 Indians study in Chinese universities, mostly the medical stream.

Most of them are stuck in India as they await permission for their colleges to reopen.

“While the Embassy continues to follow this issue keenly, it has been repeatedly advised by Chinese authorities that the restrictions in place are not likely to be relaxed in the coming months and that students studying in China should be advised accordingly with respect to their studies for the next semester, which are likely to continue only through online means,” the statement said.

“While the Embassy is aware of the difficulty of undertaking courses in medicine in online format, Indian students enrolled in Chinese universities are advised to take note of the restrictions currently in place and make appropriate arrangements for continuing their education,” it said.

“All Indian students are advised to continue to monitor the websites of Indian Embassy/Consulate(s) in China and also our social media channels to remain updated about the evolving situation with respect to the prospects of their return to China”, it said.

“They should also remain in touch with their universities for any updates. They may also follow the websites of the Chinese Embassy in Delhi as well as those of Chinese Consulates in India on this issue,” the press release added.

No choice but to impose travel curbs to contain COVID-19: China

China said on Tuesday that it has “no choice” but to take preventive measures like travel restrictions to contain COVID-19, as it reacted to a demonstration by stranded Indian students in front of its embassy in New Delhi.

China’s response came after reports from New Delhi said several Indian students, mostly studying medicine, held a demonstration in front of the Chinese embassy on Monday demanding Beijing to permit their return to re-join their studies.

Asked for her reaction to the Indian students’ demonstration in Delhi, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here: “COVID-19 is still spreading in many parts of the world”.

“So, in this context, the Chinese government has no choice but to take a lot of prevention and control measures,” Hua said.

Given the situation, China is adjusting its measures in accordance with the evolving situation, in order to ensure the safe, healthy and orderly flow of Chinese and foreign travellers, she said.

“I want to stress that China’s inbound prevention and control measures are applied to all inbound travellers, including its own citizens,” she said.

Last week, Indian ambassador to China Vikram Misri criticised China’s prolonged stringent travel restrictions, saying that: “We are disappointed to see an unscientific approach with regard to several problems currently being faced by Indian students, businessmen, marine crew and exporters, to name a few.”

Besides over 23,000 Indian students studying in Chinese colleges, mostly medicine, hundreds of businessmen, employees, and their families have been stuck in India since last year.

The curbs also resulted in several people either losing jobs, businesses, or separation of families.