Bangladeshi students demand a fruitful discussion with the Chinese Foreign Minister to return China

Publish: 11:25 AM, July 31, 2022

Staff Correspondent: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is coming to Dhaka in the first week of August on a two-day visit. Officials of the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the Chinese minister’s visit to Dhaka will begin on 6 August. Bangladeshi students who are studying in China and now staying in Bangladesh are looking hope to returning to China during China’s Foreign Minister on this visit.

At the beginning of 2020, due to the coronavirus epidemic in China spread globally and for the winter vacation about 5,000 students returned home with the cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh and many individual initiatives. Even after two and a half years, they did not go back to China. As a result, the academic activities of the students are suffering.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has recently approved Biman Bangladesh Airlines to open Dhaka-Kunming and Dhaka-Guangzhou routes to further facilitate personnel exchange between China and Bangladesh according to the Chinese embassy in Bangladesh on Monday (July 25). It is also said that existing domestic flights operated by China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines have been increased from one to two per month from July.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday (July 26), the website of the Chinese Embassy in Bangladesh published information on which categories of visas can be applied for Bangladeshi to come to mainland China during the Covid-19 epidemic. The information released was not clear about the return of students. As a result, there is intense stress and depression among the students returning to China.

However, on Monday (June 20) on the verified official Facebook page of the Chinese embassy in Dhaka, the country’s Ambassador Li Jiming said in a message titled ‘One minute with the Ambassador’, that for the improvement of the corona situation, China has allowed foreign students to return to their education after being closed due to the corona epidemic for a long time. Bangladeshi students are getting permission to return to China in the first step of this process.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has raised a ray of hope among the Bangladeshi students who are studying in China, and now staying in Bangladesh on the occasion of his visit to Bangladesh. They think that there will be a fruitful bilateral discussion with the Foreign Minister of China and the Bangladesh government regarding the return of the students. If the government is sincere then they will be able to return to the university within the next semester and resume their normal studies.

Md. Ahsan Kabir, who is studying at China’s Zhejiang Gongshang University in a Ph.D. program on a Chinese government scholarship, said, “I came home on vacation after the first-semester final exam and got stuck.” Around 5,000 students returned to Bangladesh when the coronavirus pandemic took shape. Back home we have been under an online curriculum for more than two and a half years. Because online teaching is not enough for learning, we are lagging far behind in education. In this situation, if we cannot go to China in the next semester, then our studies and career will be threatened. This large number of students and their families will be in crisis.

He also said that it is with great sadness that we have not gone back even though the last two and a half years have passed. No steps have been taken to get us back. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will come to Dhaka on a two-day visit on August 6. That is why we are all hopeful that there will be a fruitful bilateral discussion with the Bangladesh government and the Chinese Foreign Minister regarding the return of the students. We request the intervention of Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Hon’ble Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, State Minister of Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, and responsible officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take necessary measures to return a large number of Bangladeshi students to China who have been stuck for a long time in Bangladesh.

Referring to China as a friendly country, Md Rasel Ahammed, who is studying Master of Civil Engineering at the Beijing Research Institute told that in the past, China has always stood by Bangladesh in every crisis. I am hopeful that the government will take promising action.

He also said China is a comfortable country for higher education. Every year many students from Bangladesh go to study in China on scholarship, and they are working in different institutes in the country and abroad with their degrees from different universities in China. But the sad fact is that since 2020, the Chinese government has closed the borders for international students, and started online education programs due to their Zero Covid Policy. Which has actually created a lot of hurdles for engineering and medical students in their education life.

In despair that the third dose of the Sinopharm vaccine could not come to China Md. Masud Rana, who is studying on a scholarship in the Bachelor’s program at Huangshan University, said, “We applaud him as the Chinese Foreign Minister is coming to Bangladesh, but we want to return to the university by the next semester anyway.” The Chinese embassy in Bangladesh says it will quickly send back students studying in China, but is yet to say anything specific. Our first instruction was that if you want to go to China, you have to take the Sinopharm vaccine, but even after finishing the third dose, I still couldn’t go.

He also said that even after taking the third dose of Sinopharm vaccine, we have to spend 14 to 21 days of quarantine in China if go which is very expensive, besides the cost of air tickets is also very expensive because of the low number of flights which is very difficult for us to afford. We want visa processing, quarantine costs, and flight ticket costs to be reduced. Specifically, the Bangladesh Foreign Minister should discuss strongly with the Chinese Foreign Minister and make arrangements to send us back quickly. We want to go back to the university and proceed with normal studies.

It should be noted that international students from several countries including Russia and Pakistan have already returned to China. Moreover, the university authorities have completed a survey of those who want to return to various universities in China.