Talking about the 2022 Winter Olympics, Students groused that China is promoting an international sporting event while ignoring international students’ future. International students opine that the Chinese embassies are not interested in having that dialogue with students. Observers say that the silence towards international students might harm China’s image internationally. Last August, China restarted visa applications for South Korean students. But most of China’s half a million international students come from developing countries, including India, and they are waiting to receive any notice as to when they can return, although they can continue their studies online.
Many foreign students say they have been fully vaccinated with Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines and are perplexed why China is not trusting the efficacy of its own vaccines enough to allow them to return. Students are also disturbed at the fact that China gave special treatment to South Korean students but ignored other foreign students. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Wednesday chose not to respond to both these questions even as the new semester is scheduled to begin in September.
The Chinese border has been closed to most foreigners since March 2020, with special exemptions for work or family-related concerns but foreign students did not get any respite. China has maintained a zero-tolerance approach to COVID-19, using mass-testing, contact tracing and lockdowns whenever outbreaks occur. Travelers to China must receive a health code clearance from their local embassies and download a WeChat app to submit their recent travel history and health status.
The U.S. Embassy and consulates in China resumed visa appointments in May for students planning to study in American universities in the fall, after the U.S. lifted travel restrictions for students from China and several other countries. According to official media, the Chinese students were denied visas on grounds that included Presidential Proclamation 10043, signed last May by the then U.S. President Donald Trump. The proclamation suspends entry of Chinese graduates or researchers, at the discretion of the secretary of state, to prevent them acquiring “sensitive United States technologies and intellectual property.” Chinese constitute the largest segment of the international student population in the U.S.; however, they have had to contend with tightened visa regulations in 2018, especially for those studying in high-tech fields.