China’s continuing travel ban on Indians ‘unscientific’, says envoy
China’s Embassy in India has largely not been issuing any visas since a travel ban imposed in November last year
China’s continuing travel ban that has barred travellers from India, including thousands of students, from going to the country for more than one year reflected an “unscientific approach” from the Chinese authorities, India’s Ambassador to China Vikram Misri has said.
Speaking on the current difficult state of bilateral relations in a dialogue held by Indian and Chinese institutes last week, Mr. Misri said, “Far less complex issues, which have a purely humanitarian context and are not connected to bilateral diplomatic stances, such as facilitating the movement of students, businesspersons and stranded family members from India to China for over a year and a half now, await a more balanced and sensitive approach.”
“I might add here that India has also attempted to keep our trade and commercial relationship insulated from current differences, for instance by continuing to issue visas to Chinese businesspersons to visit India,” Mr. Misri said, according to remarks made available on Saturday by the Indian Embassy in Beijing.
“However, 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,” Mr. Misri said.
As The Hindu reported in July, many of the close to 23,000 Indian students enrolled in Chinese universities remain in India and are unable to return to their courses. Most are in medical degrees, and are concerned that online programmes arranged by their universities will not adequately prepare them especially in hands-on clinical subjects.
Their pleas to Chinese authorities for more than one year have made no headway. In June, 3,000 students under the banner of “Indian Students in China” sent a letter via email to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking clarity on a possible date of return and noting that they were willing to undergo vaccination, testing and quarantine protocols as required.
No visa being issued
China’s Embassy in India has largely not been issuing any visas since a travel ban imposed in November last year. The Embassy has since March this year also effectively barred even Chinese nationals in India from returning home by denying them health codes that are needed to board flights to China.
The ban includes even family members, leading to many cases of families being split up for over a year. Several Chinese nationals in India told The Hindu some have not seen their children for over a year and have even been unable to visit ailing relatives, while some families are meeting in third countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the UAE.
India has been issuing visas to Chinese citizens to enable them to visit their family in India, although if they visit they face the prospect of being unable to return to China. Mr. Misri pointed out India was now also issuing visas to Chinese businesspersons to enable their travel to India.
All travellers to China face up to 21 days in quarantine. However, even those willing to undertake the required testing and complete the quarantine are not being issued visas or health codes. China has so far offered no timetable as to when it will open up.