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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Bharat suspends tourist visas of Chinese nationals in tit-for-tat move

Following Beijing’s reluctance to allow the return of Bharatiyas stuck at home since 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Bharat has also suspended tourist visas for nationals of China.

The government’s move came after thousands of Bharatiya including more than 23,000 students, have been stuck in Bharat for over two years as Beijing has suspended the visa process as well as flights from Bharat due to the pandemic situation.

In its latest update on April, global air transport body IATA said that tourist visas issued to nationals of China were no longer valid. But the Bharatiya government is still giving business, employment, diplomatic and official visas to Chinese nationals.

The IATA issues regular travel updates to all airlines to know which nationalities are allowed to be flown to which countries. The latest update on Bharat was about the countries whose nationals cannot travel to Bharat on e-tourist visas.

The officials aware of the development said that students from Thailand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have been allowed to return to China, but it has continued to remain silent about permitting stranded Bharatiya students and hundreds of businessmen and workers and their families to re-join their studies and work.

In March, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had taken up the issue with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during the latter’s visit to Bharat, while in February Beijing had promised the Indian Embassy to work for the early return of the Bharatiya students and assured that they will no discrimination in any manner as their resumption of studies.

Explaining China’s decision to allow students from some countries to return but not from Bharat, Wang had said on March 22 that on the basis of ensuring sound pandemic prevention and control, the country was coordinating arrangements for a small number of foreign students with actual needs to return to China in light of the changing international pandemic situation.

After a hiatus of over two years, Bharat restored the electronic tourist visa facility for 156 countries last month following the resumption of all scheduled international flights from March 27.

According to the April 19 IATA update on Bharat, the nationals of only these countries are allowed to enter the country such as Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal; those with a residence permit issued by Bharat; those with a visa or e-visa issued by Bharat; those with an overseas citizen of India (OCI) card or booklet; those having a PIO card; and diplomatic passport holders.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with minor edits to conform to the HinduPost style guide)

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