A number of flights to China planned by India stands cancelled after Beijing decided to temporarily suspend the entry into the country by foreign nationals from India holding valid visas or residence permits in view of the coronavirus pandemic, dashing the plans of some 2,000 Indian professionals to return to their places of work in Chinese cities.
The Chinese embassy in New Delhi on Thursday said that China has decided to temporarily suspend the entry into the country by foreign nationals from India holding valid visas or residence permits in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
The embassy said the "suspension" is a temporary measure that China has to adopt to deal with the current pandemic. "China will make further adjustment and announcement in accordance with the ongoing pandemic situation in a timely manner," it said.
The notice affected the plans by about 2,000 Indian professionals and their families who have been trying hard to return to back to their work and businesses.
Their hopes were brightened recently when China lifted the ban on the visas and resident permits which encouraged many of them to finalise plans to return.
India announced early this week plans to operate Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) flights to China from Delhi on November 13, 20, 27 and December 4 to facilitate their return.
Officials here said the flights now stand cancelled as a result of China's move to suspend visas.
Chinese embassies in the UK and the Philippines have made similar announcements.
India has so far operated six VBM flights and the last one operated in Delhi-Wuhan sector. Twenty-three passengers on that flight tested positive including 19 of them for asymptomatic symptoms.
Asked for the reason for the sudden action, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here on Thursday that the notices issued by the Chinese embassies in the relevant countries have made it clear that this is a temporary response necessitated by the current situation of COVID-19.
"Learning from other countries' practices and taking into consideration the evolving epidemic situation, we have adjusted measures concerning pertinent travellers to China," he said.
"This is a reasonable and legitimate move consistent with international customary practices, and I believe it will be understood by all. The Chinese embassies in relevant countries will publish timely notices in accordance with the evolving situation," he said.