India asks Beijing for ‘congenial stance’ to facilitate Indian students’ return

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The Indian government is urging China to adopt a “congenial stance” in the return of students. Source: Hector Retamal/AFP

Here’s the latest China border news: the Indian government has announced an active attempt to facilitate the return of students to the country, after two years of hard border closures have prevented many from completing their programmes.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced on Thursday that it is urging Beijing to adopt a “congenial stance” in regards to the return of students. 

“We have highlighted the plight of the students and how the continuation of these stringent restrictions was putting the academic careers of thousands of students in jeopardy,” Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the MEA, said at a media briefing. “Our embassy in Beijing, our consulates and ministry have been taking up this matter with the relevant authorities in China on numerous occasions, since the restrictions were imposed.”

Bagchi clarified that External Affairs Minister S Jaishanker had personally raised this issue with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in September last year, but did not receive any clear response. 

“Let me clarify that till date, the Chinese side has not given any categorical response about the return of Indian students. We will continue to urge the Chinese side to adopt a congenial stance in the interest of our students and that they facilitate an early return to China so that our students can pursue their studies.”

Indian students have been asking their government to facilitate their return for two years. Source: Hector Retamal/AFP

China border news: Indian students desperate to return

Indian students, along with many others, have been locked out of the country for two years. Many are stuck in an academic limbo, unable to move forwards with their incomplete degrees. These include medical students who are unable to complete clinical practice.

“Being in such a programme where we have to treat patients, we need practical sessions and hands-on experience,” Meera, an Indian student who requested to stay anonymous, told Study International. “We have been missing all those precious years and experiences.”

Other students have not been able to transfer to other universities when they could not access their transcripts.

India’s National Medical Commission, which regulates medical education and medical professionals in India, previously cautioned Indian students to do adequate checks before choosing to pursue medical education in China amid COVID-19-related travel restrictions. The council added that it does not recognise or approve fully online medical courses.

A survey conducted by China International Student Union revealed that students were experiencing poor mental and physical health as a direct result of the lengthened border closure. Out of 1,473 responses, 53% said they have experienced “serious mental health issues”, 47% have been unable to complete their university credits and 37% said they have been unable to support themselves.

The lack of clear updates on China border news has penalised female Asian students. Many who conduct their studies online have had to juggle extra tasks for their homes and families. “A lot of times, when I’m doing my research, I still have to help out with the housework,” Sarah, a Singaporean international student, previously told Study International

There are rumours that Thai students have safely landed in Shanghai and are currently undergoing quarantine. On top of this, the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad has allegedly issued visas to select Pakistani students this month. 

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Indian students are looking forward to positive China border news after being locked out of the country for two years. Source: Manpreet Romana/AFP

There have been multiple indicators that the Chinese government has been working with multiple countries to facilitate student return. In February, a joint statement was released clarifying that China will arrange for Pakistani students’ return, and that the country was prepared to resume travel with Singapore to allow the continuation of students’ education. However, no clear timeline was stipulated in both instances.

Indian students have been vocal about their desire to return to China for their studies, and have urged their government to step in on their behalf on numerous occasions. The hashtags #PMSavelndianStudentsOfChina, #TakeUsBackToChina and #GOIHelpIndianStudentsOfChina have been frequently used on Twitter in an attempt to get the attention of the authorities to facilitate their students’ return.

They further brought up the Beijing Winter Olympics, which allowed athletes and officials from a variety of countries entry into China despite the continued ban of international students.

“We have taken WHO approved vaccines, we are ready to get quarantined. We just want to go back!” tweeted one student