In a major relief for Indian students, the Chinese authorities are in touch with the Indian side on the issue of their return to complete their courses.
A spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “positive progress" has been made.
He said the competent authorities of both the sides will maintain close communication and facilitate the movement at an early date.
The spokesperson also said that China is open to discussion regarding direct flights with countries, including India.
Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had raised the issue of opening up of flights and return of Indian students to China during his recent meeting with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of G20 Foreign Ministers meeting in Bali, Indonesia, last week.
The Ministry of External Affairs’ (MEA) release after the meeting of the two foreign ministers had said that Jaishankar reviewed the progress of some key issues discussed during the visit of Wang Yi to India in March this year including, “the return of students”.
The MEA stressed the need for expediting the process and facilitating the return of students at an early date.
The Indian government has been taking up the matter of return with the Chinese authorities both in New Delhi and through the Indian Embassy in China.
Yi was apprised of the situation during his visit to Delhi in March this year. In his statement after the bilateral meeting, Jaishankar had said that he took up strongly the “predicament of Indian students studying in China who have not been allowed to return, citing Covid restrictions”.
Jaishankar further stated: “We hope that China will take a non-discriminatory approach, since it involves the future of so many young people. Minister Wang Yi assured me that he would speak to the relevant authorities on his return on this matter. He also recognised the particular concerns that medical students have in this difficult situation.”
To keep the academic progress of the medical students unaffected, the MEA had raised the issue with the relevant authorities, after which the National Medical Commission had issued a circular on March 4, 2022.
The circular had stated that “in view of the large number of Indian medical students in foreign institutions who have not been able to complete internship, the National Medical Commission has decided to accept applications from such affected foreign medical graduates to complete the remaining part of internship in India”.
From March 27, 2020, the Chinese government had restricted travel to China by suspending visa and residence permits due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
About 20,000 Indian students were enrolled in various courses, including clinical medicine courses, in different Chinese universities at that time.
A large number of returned to India when all universities in China closed down.
Answering a question in Parliament related to the return of Indian students to China to complete their study, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan had said: “The universities in China have not reopened fully as on date. In the meantime, the Chinese government has advised Chinese Universities to maintain contact with foreign students and continue classes online.”