China eases visa restrictions as Covid-19 concerns relax
China has decided to begin easing its strict restrictions on visas after the country had largely suspended issuance of visas to foreign students and others more than two years ago when Covid-19 pandemic began. The website of the Chinese Embassy in India mentions that updated procedures would be into effect from Wednesday, without further mentioning of any vaccine requirements or proof of a negative test for the coronavirus.
“For students who return to China to resume their studies: ‘Certificate of Returning to Campus’ issued by the university in China” is required, the Embassy said. The Chinese Embassy in Washington has also posted a notice mentioning the new rules for students and others would be effective from Wednesday.
“Warmest congrats to Indian students! Your patience proves worthwhile,” Ji Rong, Counsellor at the Department of Asian Affairs in the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, said on Twitter. “Welcome back to China!”
China still requires the people travelling from other countries and arriving in China to be quarantined at a hotel or private home, along with requirement of proof of a negative test for entry to many public and commercial spaces. The decision by Beijing of easing visa restrictions is significant move for Indian students, as many Indian students are pursuing degrees in medicine that are far more affordable in China as compared to Western nations.
China had aggressively shut down its borders after the first detection of coronavirus in the central China city of Wuhan in late 2019. The government has pursued a strict “zero-COVID” policy, putting millions under lockdown. As the number of cases have reduced and due to public outcry against economic and social impact of the lockdown, these measures have gradually been lifted. However, sporadic outbreaks are still occurring, with 1,641 new cases of domestic transmission being announced, including in far away regions such as Tibet and Xinjiang in the northwest.