More than 5000 students currently pursuing their education in different Chinese universities are unable to return to China due to the travel restrictions imposed by the Chinese government.
China suspended the entry of foreign nationals in late March to control the spread of Covid-19’s delta variant. Students who returned to Pakistan when the pandemic broke out are now unable to return to China and fear they may lose chance to continue their education for this academic year and may not receive their degrees.
Pakistani students are now demanding visas to go back to China to continue their education as soon as possible. The new academic year is set to begin in September.
#TakebackPakstudentstoChina has been trending on Twitter as the students complain about their problems online and urge the government to take action for them. The students demand that the government should allow these students to return to China as they are fully vaccinated and cannot miss their education under any circumstances.
The Pakistani students have worked hard for years and are now at the last stage when they were hoping to get their degrees. They are unable to go back to China and complete their research etc. @mophrd @ForeignOfficePk @Cathaypak @zlj517 @MFA_China#TakeBackPakStudentsToChina pic.twitter.com/HrIl3sifim
— M Asif Shahzad (@theasifshahzad) August 10, 2021
— Kamran Rajpoot (@KamranR76513265) August 10, 2021
We are Stucked in Pakistan for more than 19 months, Our Future is at risk we cant do research online.
please raise our issue ,
We need your help@mophrd @ForeignOfficePk@AmbNong @Cathaypak @zlj517 @MFA @XHNews#TakeBackPakStudentsToChina pic.twitter.com/2irFNoZj2J
— Haris Rehman (@HarisRehman595) August 10, 2021
The Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Mr. Nong Rong had a meeting with the President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi on 9th August. Talks on further cooperation in IT, agriculture, infrastructure etc. were conducted however, no clear statement or action plan has been given out for the Pakistani students.
Problems faced by Pakistani students studying in China
Many Pakistani students were receiving fully-funded scholarships from the Chinese government, but the scholarships have been withheld by Chinese authorities for over a year now. The standard scholarship offers them a monthly stipend of 70,000 Pakistani rupees (€372, $453) to 90,000 rupees.
For some of the students, the stipend given is the only source of income as the students left their jobs when they enrolled in the universities.
Many students conducting their research work under the supervision of Chinese professors fear that their efforts and hard work will be wasted if the students are not allowed back into the country.
With the suspension of the stipend, the students are likely to face further financial hardships.
Going to study abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and for students who have been on leave from their jobs to pursue their PhDs abroad, this opportunity may never come back if the issue is not resolved now.
Pakistan Foreign Office promised help to students in China
Earlier in October 2020, the foreign office of Pakistan had said that the government of Pakistan is in touch with Chinese authorities to help thousands of Pakistanis studying in China return to their colleges and universities despite coronavirus travel restrictions imposed by Beijing.
At the start of the pandemic, Pakistani authorities faced a widespread outcry as officials refused to evacuate students stranded in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus. Following weeks of domestic and international pressure placed on Prime Minister Imran Khan, the government relented and offered them a way back.
Most of the students returned to Pakistan in the early months of last year, but are desperate to go back to China to finish their studies. They have asked Pakistani and Chinese authorities for an exact timeframe for their return, but officials haven’t offered any firm answers. But in the beginning both Chinese and Pakistani governments had advised students to stay put in China instead of travelling back to home because China was considered more safe in view of the strong measures being taken inside China. At that times students and their families pressured both governments to let them travel. Now it’s the other way round.