China defends visa restrictions on stranded Indians, saying it is “appropriate” to fight COVID-19

China on Monday defended its visa restrictions, which have prevented thousands of stranded Indians from returning to Beijing, saying they are “appropriate” to control the spread of COVID-19 and target not just India, but in fact on Chinese citizens returning from China apply overseas.

In response to questions about the criticism of the Indian ambassador in Beijing Vikram Misri of China’s persistently strict travel restrictions, the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, also ruled out easing the curbs in the near future.

Misri, in his address to the Track II Dialogue on China-India Relations last week, expressed “disappointment” with China’s reluctance to allow thousands of stranded Indian students, staff and their families to return due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He called China’s restrictions an “unscientific approach” to a purely humanitarian issue.

Asked about her reaction, Hua said in a media briefing here that measures have been taken to ensure the safety and welfare of the people.

“China’s measures are appropriate and I would also like to say that China applies quarantine measures to all travelers. China stands ready to make good arrangements for staff’s bilateral travel, ”she said.

Hua also said the travel restrictions apply to Chinese citizens returning from abroad.

Many Chinese nationals stranded in India were reportedly unable to return due to strict travel restrictions and flight suspensions.

“China has to take a lot of quarantine measures, but they are not just targeting India. It applies equally to everyone including Chinese citizens returning to China, ”said Hua.

In addition to more than 23,000 Indian students studying at Chinese universities, mainly medicine, hundreds of business people, employees and their families have been stuck in India since last year.

The curbs also resulted in several people either losing their jobs, business, or family separation.

“While we ensure safety, we are ready to work with countries like India by taking appropriate precautions. But I don’t want to say that we will solve the problem immediately, ”said Hua when asked whether China would discuss the resumption of travel with India.

“Our actions are appropriate and we will make the necessary adjustments as the situation evolves,” she said.

Hua also said China is scientifically adopting COVID-19 protocols.

“Since the COVID-19 outbreak, China has been enacting science-based quarantine measures based on law,” she said.

“The pandemic is still spreading worldwide. So the Chinese government has taken a lot of measures, and we are also adapting the measures as the situation evolves to protect the safety and health of the personnel involved, ”she said.

In his address, Ambassador Misri had said: “Far less complex issues that have a purely humanitarian context and are not linked to bilateral diplomatic positions, such as facilitating the movement of students, business people and stranded family members from India to China for over a year. “And a half are now waiting for a more balanced and sensitive approach.”

“I would like to add here that India has also tried to protect our trade and trade relations from current differences, for example by continuing to issue visas for Chinese business people to visit India,” he said.

However, we are disappointed to see an unscientific approach to various problems currently facing Indian students, business people, ship crews and exporters, to name a few, ”said the Ambassador.

Meanwhile, according to the Indian embassy in Beijing, several students demonstrated outside the Chinese embassy in New Delhi on Monday to protest the visa restrictions that have effectively prevented them from resuming their studies in the country.