The Centre has informally told airlines not to fly Chinese nationals into the country. The development follows China's move to ban entry of flyers from India a month ago.
Although flights operating between India and China presently stand suspended, Chinese nationals, eligible to fly as per current rules for foreigners, have been doing so by travelling to a third country with which India has signed an air bubble agreement, and from there, they then fly to India. Besides, Chinese nationals dwelling in air bubble nations have also been travelling to India for work and business.
Thus, the Centre, over the past weekend, specifically asked airlines, both Indian and foreign, not to fly them to India, according to a report in the Times of India. Currently, tourist visas to India remain suspended, however, foreigners are permitted to fly into the country for work as well as some other categories of non-tourist visas. According to industry sources, a majority of Chinese nationals travelling to India have been flying in from air bubble nations in Europe.
Meanwhile, some airlines, according to the report, have asked the authorities to provide them with a written document or notification so that they can give a valid reason for denying boarding to Chinese nationals booked on flights to India as per the present norms. The Centre's response comes at a time when Indian seafarers are stranded in several Chinese ports because China is not permitting them on shore, or even to change crew.
This has impacted around 1,500 Indians serving on international flag merchant vessels as they can't return to India. Although China's target is Australia, whose coal it has banned, Indian seafarers have to bear a big collateral damage due to this as Beijing doesn't seem to be inclined to arrange for an immediate relief.
China had in early November temporarily barred the entry of foreign nationals living in India into the country. The order is applicable to all foreign nationals (in India) holding valid Chinese visas or residence permits. China had additionally suspended all special flight operations from India, banning non-Chinese flyers from returning to the country in the wake of rising coronavirus cases on Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) flights.
"The Chinese Embassy/Consulates in India will not stamp the Health Declaration Forms for the holders of the above-mentioned categories of visa or residence permits," China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"Foreigners holding Chinese diplomatic, service, courtesy and C visas are not effected. Foreigners with emergency or humanitarian needs to visit China, can submit visa application to the Chinese Embassy/ Consulates in India. The entry into China with visas issued after November 3, 2020 is not effected," the statement further added.
Chinese Foreign Ministry had also stated that the suspension was a stopgap arrangement to tackle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"China will make further adjustments and announcements in accordance with the ongoing pandemic situation in a timely manner," the statement said.