When? Whenever the Chinese government decides it. It could be tomorrow, one year, two years, maybe never.
On March 28, China implemented a Travel Ban of only foreign nationals. If you were Chinese citizen you can return back. I didn’t know that the virus can discriminate between nationals and foreigners.
As you can imagine a percentage of international students got stuck outside of China when the epidemic started. Many returned home in December and January because of the vacations. The school authorities told the students not to come until further notice. At first you might think, well the authorities don’t know about the situation of international students, their first priority is combating the epidemic, economy and so on and so on, is not on top of their mind. Chinese universities told students stuck abroad to wait for further notice and to have classes online. As you might expect the classes were awful, bad Internet connection was poor, the time difference etc. By summer of 2020 to add to salt in the wound of International Students stuck abroad the students that had CSC scholarship won’t get paid until they return to China. So, the people who depend of their scholarship just lost their source of income. The school gives the students two options, finish your studies online or freeze your academic year until you can return.
In summer of 2020 the Trump Administration implemented a policy that if you are in America you must take classes in person or you would get ban from the U.S. That of course it will affect international students. Universities made a big deal of this and sue the Trump administration and reversed the policy . As you can imagine the Chinese authorities made a big deal about the barring of Chinese students . In that year you can see news about Chinese students returning to western universities (except Australia and few others), how universities prepare chatter flights for them, how the Chinese embassies gave PPE to Chinese studying abroad and show how much they care for them . You will say finally international students are in the agenda specially right in time for the 2020 autumn school term. By that time the travel ban has been lifted for South Korean students and for some weird reason New York University Shanghai (God knows why those had the exception lifted), but everyone else was still banned,
Time passed, is early 2021, some will say now the authorities will allow students enter for the spring term, but they can’t, as you can imagine some are mad, resentful, depress…. And is not a small number either, Shanghai in 2021, lost one third of its international students . There were around half a million international students by 2019, if we suppose nation wide China lost the same ratio of international students is 150,000 students who got stuck abroad. This year they started becoming very active in social media Twitter, Facebook, talking to newspaper like the South China Morning Post , and other newspapers in Pakistan and India. They also tried in Chinese social media, and as you can imagine with hilarious and sad results, you can check Weibo by yourself at your own peril.
They also go through official channels, a group called: China International Students Union try to rally the students stuck abroad and give them collective voice . Many times, the international students raise the question: When can International student return? Receiving the same answer from the authorities.
“The Chinese government always attaches high importance to the issue of foreign students coming to China for their studies. On the basis of ensuring safety amid COVID-19, we will consider in a coordinated manner arrangement for allowing foreign students to return to China for their studies.”
The foreign spokesman has repeated the same response for the entire of 2021 (at least 5 times had been asked in 2021 so far) and nothing has been done for international students for 18 months, well not exactly, the Chinese propaganda machine have reported about how happy international students are in China has been set to eleven . A letter from International Students Peking University praising the country leadership, was replied by chairman Xi himself. And was published by the biggest newspapers. . All major university with International students wrote a letter back to chairman Xi, thanking him for the encouragement to international students.….
As mention before China haven’t closed completely. There is a limited number of international flights. Only can be used by Chinese citizens, and in some occasions for foreign workers or close family members. But by the graph there around a capacity of at least 200 thousand international travelers weekly , more than the 150 000 needed for the International Students to return. They government brag they have the capacity to do almost anything, returning 150,000 students is an impossible act?
I am mistaken, they do care about international students, if there are Chinese students studying abroad you can see official Chinese media caring deeply about their students abroad. There are 350,000 Chinese students in the U.S., like I said before they sued the government in summer of 2020, because it was going to ban international students taking online classes in America. Also during Trump administration there were new regulation banning students, that had connection to the PLA, or close to the CCP. Because of this new restrictions around 1000 students had their visa revoked or couldn’t apply for a study visa. These students are preparing a lawsuit against the U.S. government. They even have a gofundme campaign.  They are calling government racist. WHAT? Because the U.S. rejected less than 1% people applied for student visa? Is not racist at all to reject almost one third of international student? ( I know the correct word is xenophobic, not racist, but you get the point)
First the Chinese people think that International students are doing great, and are super grateful to be in China. There also been sold the idea that there is no Covid infections in China, but if they allow foreign students to enter they will bring the virus with them, remember Chinese people can still move in and out of mainland China and clearly the virus can decide to infect foreigners and not nationals. The message to foreign students is to stay put, wait a little bit longer until the epidemic is controllable (same message since march 2020), and also because you are not in china you won’t receive scholarship, so how you support yourself is your own business.
My concluding remarks so when international students can come? When ever the authorities want to, tomorrow in five years or never. Is obvious the authorities are aware about the international students petition.  they already have the same answer every time a foreign affairs spokesman is questioned about the situation of one third of international students. Around 150,000 students being completely ignored and put aside. But we can see with what ferocity they defend around 1000 of their students that were denied visa in the U.S.
My suggestion is that try to study in a rule of law country, for example U.S. or any western country. If by any chance there is a new regulation that affects your life, you can sue them like the Chinese students in America are doing with the US government, also you can make your case heard in the mass media . The foreign students fall for the propaganda when they decided to study in that country. With evidence and experience, now you know that the country has political goals first. Changing where you study will be more optimal way to regain control of your life, or you can still continue put your life in the hands of China. The choice is yours.
 Sign the Petition