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Closely following up with China: Indian Embassy on students' concerns

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New Delhi, Mar 23: The Indian Embassy on Monday said it is closely following up with the Chinese authorities about the concerns of thousands of Indian students who are stuck back home and unable to return to China to re-join their universities due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Beijing.

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There are over 4.40 lakh foreign students from across the globe in China. This includes over 23,000 Indians, mostly studying medicine in various Chinese medical colleges after paying heavy fees.

Citing COVID-19 restrictions, China has been advising the students to continue with the online classes in their respective countries. The students, however, have been stating that as most of them are pursuing science courses, they need access to laboratories for practical training.

They have also complained that their scholarships have been suspended.

In a press release, the Indian Embassy in Beijing said, "As noted in its previous communications, the Embassy of India in Beijing has continued to follow up closely with Chinese authorities, including the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, regarding the concerns of Indian students in China, especially their early return to colleges/universities in this country."

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"It will continue to engage with the Chinese side to seek progress on the issue of movement of people between the two countries," it said.

Chinese authorities at various levels continue to maintain their position that, on account of last year's announcement by the foreign ministry and the State Administration of Immigration to suspend temporarily the entry of foreigners holding valid Chinese visa and residence permits following the outbreak of COVID-19 in many countries, overseas students are temporarily unable to enter China, the embassy said.

It underlined that Chinese authorities have also conveyed that they are aware of the concerns of the students and have asked all relevant Chinese universities to maintain close contact with the students and keep them informed, besides continuing with the online courses.

"It has also been suggested by Chinese authorities that Indian students stay in touch with their universities and pursue their studies in accordance with the suggestions and guidance of the universities," the release said.

The embassy advised the Indian students to monitor its website and social media channels to remain updated about the evolving situation in connection to the return of foreign students to China.

The release also cited Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian's response to queries on the issue at a media briefing on March 19.

"The Chinese government attaches high importance to protecting the rights and interests of foreign students in China. Academic institutions are required to keep in close contact with those students abroad, make good arrangements for online courses, and properly address their legitimate concerns and appeals. On the pre-condition of observing containment protocols, the Chinese authorities will study this matter in a coordinated manner and keep in communication with relevant parties," it said quoting Zhao.

Recently, Chinese authorities have issued a notification relating to visa facilitation for foreigners travelling to China, the release noted, referring to a notice from the Chinese Embassy in India stating that it is mandatory for people coming from India and 19 other nations to get Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines if they want to travel to the country.

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    However, it underlined that the notification does not apply to foreign students.

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