Coronavirus | With new curbs, China makes it harder for its nationals in India to return

Embassy unofficially begins denying green health codes even if travellers fulfil criteria.

China’s Embassy in India has since Friday put in place curbs that have made it harder for its nationals to return to China, amid the surge in COVID-19 cases.

The Embassy told Chinese travellers it will no longer issue “health codes” they need to return if they transit either through Nepal or Sri Lanka. Indian citizens and foreigners based in India have been barred from travelling to China since November last year.

Nepal has been the most popular route for Chinese nationals to return in the absence of direct flights between India and China, as there are daily flights from New Delhi to Kathmandu and weekly flights from Kathmandu to Guangzhou and Chongqing.

Travellers require a green health code from the Embassy in New Delhi to apply for a health code in Nepal, the country of transit.

While the Embassy’s website says travellers can apply for health codes if they have negative test results for COVID-19, the Embassy had, starting Friday, unofficially begun denying travellers green health codes even if they fulfil the criteria, though there has been no such formal announcement.

By closing off the Nepal route, the Embassy is now limiting how even its own nationals may be able to return.

Last month, the Embassy said it will begin ‘facilitating’ travellers provided they have taken “Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines” which are not available in India.

The travel ban has been a particular concern for many Indian students enrolled in Chinese universities, many of whom have been unable to return to China. There are at least 23,000 Indians studying in China, mostly in medical colleges, according to figures available with the Indian Embassy in Beijing.

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