The Chinese Embassy in India has said that it will resume accepting visa applications from Indians wanting to travel to China, only if they have been inoculated with a Chinese COVID vaccine.
"For the purpose of resuming people-to-people exchanges in an orderly manner, starting from 15 March 2021, Chinese embassies and consulates in India will provide the persons having taken Chinese-made COVID vaccines and holding the certificates of vaccination with the following facilitating measures", said a note by the Chinese Embassy in India, going on to list four categories of travellers Beijing is considering to accept from India.
Only those Indians who've been inoculated with a Chinese vaccine candidate will be allowed to travel to #China, the @ChinaSpox_India has said. The announcement comes after Indian EAM @DrSJaishankar told Parliament that New Delhi would resume air travel between the two neighbours pic.twitter.com/khrD3Q3bsC— Dhairya Maheshwari (@dhairyam14) March 16, 2021
"Persons and their family members going to China to carry on their employment contracts, work resumption, and other relevant activities are allowed to submit their visa applications at the Chinese visa application centres at the embassy or consulate the same way as before the epidemic occurred", it said.
Similar rules are also in place for "foreigners" with Chinese passport holding family members as well as foreigners flying from India to China, it added.
The fourth and final category is comprised of foreigners holding a valid Chinese business visa, as per the Chinese Embassy.
The announcement about the preconditions by the Chinese mission comes just after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar told parliament on Monday that New Delhi was considering resuming air travel with more countries for the sake of Indians having employment in these countries.
"The air travel arrangements are a necessary enabling measure. But beyond that, we have been active in urging our partner governments to look sympathetically at the employment of our citizens as they chart their own recovery pathway", Jaishankar said in his remarks.
Over 100,000 Indian-origin persons live and work in China, including those holding Chinese passports, as per records available with India's External Affairs Ministry.
No Chinese Vaccine Candidate in India
The announcement by the Chinese Embassy comes despite India not having conducted trials of any of the Chinese vaccine candidates, namely Sinopharm, Sinovac, and CanSino.
Sinopharm and Sinovac are the two popular Chinese COVID vaccine candidates internationally, with Beijing having exported vaccines to 27 countries for commercial use and to 53 other countries as "aid", as per Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian.
India, on the other hand, is rolling out two vaccine candidates for export as well as domestic use, namely Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, and Covishield, which has been jointly developed by the University of Oxford and British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. In India, Covishield is being manufactured for export and domestic use by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's largest vaccine manufacturing facility.