China on Friday said it will "study" the applicability of its new rule of mandating vaccination by Chinese COVID-19 jabs to thousands of Indian students who were unable to re-join their universities in the country due to travel restrictions. In a notice on the Chinese Embassy website in India on March 15, China has made it 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.
"For the purpose of resuming people-to-people exchanges in an orderly manner, starting from 15 March, 2021, the Chinese Embassies and Consulates in India will provide the persons having taken Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine and holding the Certificates of Vaccination," a notice posted on the Chinese Embassy said.
It mentioned that the rule is applicable to persons and their family members who want to travel to China to resume work and foreigners who are the family members of Chinese citizens or holders of Chinese Permanent Resident's Permit. However, it was silent about thousands of Indian students who were stranded in India for over a year. The new rule created confusion as the Chinese COVID-19 vaccines are not available in India.
Over 23,000 Indian students, mostly studying medicine, have been enrolled in Chinese universities and most of them could not return to China due to travel restrictions. Asked whether the new rule of the Chinese vaccination is applicable to the Indian students, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here "the Chinese government attaches high importance to protecting the rights and interests of foreign students in China."
"On the precondition of observing containment protocols, the Chinese authorities will study this matter in a coordinated manner and keep in communication with relevant parties," he said. He termed "not accurate" a report quoting Chinese Embassy in New Delhi that China would make Chinese vaccines available in India for Indian travellers if the Indian government grants permission.
"The report you mentioned is not accurate," Zhao said in response to a question. "With regard to the visa facilitation measure, China provides visa facilitation to incoming foreigners who have received Chinese vaccines and hold a vaccination certificate with a view to resuming international travel in an orderly fashion.
"As to the specific measures and the eligibility, I would refer you to notices on the website of the Chinese Embassy in India," Zhao added.
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