New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) asked China to allow Indian nationals to travel to the country, especially those working or studying in the People’s Republic of China. The Ministry said that essential two-way visits need to be expedited keeping in view the fact that Chinese nationals are allowed to come to India. The MEA also said that India backs the need for a follow up to the WHO’s report on the origin of the COVID-19 virus, amid growing global calls to find out how the virus emerged in Wuhan in late 2019. MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, answering a separate question on the proposal at the World Trade Organisation by India and South Africa to waive patents on COVID-19 vaccines and related products, said, “We are happy to see that our initiative has gathered support from a number of countries.”
On the travel issue with China, Bagchi said India was in touch with the Chinese authorities in order to seek an early resumption of travel by Indian to China. Bagchi also said though Chinese nationals are able to travel to India, Indian citizens have not been able to do so since last November including those who have even met China’s condition of getting vaccinated with Chinese vaccines. He said, “We have been in touch with the Chinese side in order to seek an early resumption of travel by Indian citizens to China, especially for those who work or study there. While we recognize the need to ensure safety and strictly follow COVID- related protocols, essential two-way travel should be facilitated, especially keeping in view the fact that Chinese nationals are able to travel to India.”
Bagchi also said that the Chinese government has suspended the visas for Indians since last November and hasn’t issued a new one even to the people who are inoculated with the Chinese vaccine. Bagchi also added that he hopes for the authorities in the embassy to issue visas soon. On a question on the origins of COVID-19, the spokesperson said, “We have been very clear that we support the need for a follow up to the WHO’s report on the origin of the COVID-19 and for further studies. We have called for understanding and cooperation of all in this regard.”
The origin of the virus issue again gained traction after US President Joe Biden recently asked American intelligence agencies to investigate the case. A number of countries have been demanding an investigation into the causes of the COVID-19 pandemic and whether the virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019 from an animal source or from a laboratory accident. In March, the World Health Organisation (WHO) came out with a report on the origins of the virus but it had failed the expectations of the US and several other leading countries. On May 28, Bagchi said the follow up of the WHO report and further studies deserve the understanding and cooperation of all. During the probe by the WHO earlier this year, the US and several other countries expressed concerns over Chinese authorities not providing complete data to the WHO team probing the origin of the virus.
(With inputs from PTI)
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