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Coronavirus to delay India-China engagements

People in the know said that a key point discussed at a meeting between foreign secretary Harsh Shringla and Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong here on Friday was that while some of the planned activities may be delayed, the two sides should work to ensure that they are able to implement as many activities as possible once the situation returns to normal.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Feb 08, 2020, 10.25 PM IST
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Indian nationals have been advised to refrain from travelling to China.
Coronavirus
NEW DELHI: The coronoavirus outbreak would delay certain bilateral engagements between India and China for the next few months but two sides would try to full their commitment during the course of the year, ET has learnt.

While some of the planned activities might be delayed the two sides should work jointly to ensure that they are able to implement as many activities as possible once the situation returns to normal, ET has learnt. This was key point in the meeting between Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla and Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong here on Friday.

India and China are scheduled to organise 35 events each to mark 70 years of diplomatic ties.

As regards the travel advisories issued by the Government of India for travelers from China, Foreign Secretary assured the Ambassador that there was no ban on travel to India for Chinese or other foreign persons based in mainland China, sources told ET. If anyone wanted to travel to India, he/she had to apply afresh for a new visa. The new advisories had been issued keeping in view Public Health perspective and to contain the spread of corona virus infection.

Sun briefed Foreign Secretary on the measures taken by the Chinese Government to tackle the outbreak. The Foreign Secretary conveyed that the people and Government stood ready to help China and provide whatever assistance is possible to face this challenge, ET has learnt.

Earlier Indian nationals have been advised to refrain from traveling to China. People travelling to China henceforth will be quarantined on return.

Separately, travel to India from China on e-Visa has been temporarily suspended. This applies to holders of Chinese passport and applicants of other nationalities residing in the mainland of People’s Republic of China.

E-visa’s already issued are no longer valid. Even existing normal visas issued to Chinese nationals in China are no longer valid. The Chinese nationals who have compelling reason to visit India have been advised to contact the Indian Embassy or Consulate.

The Foreign Secretary requested Sun that the Chinese authorities may ensure that Indian students, who had to return from China due to the outbreak, do not suffer academically since their return to their Universities in China would be delayed due to the ongoing outbreak.

A Chinese delegation dropped out of attending the defence exposition being held in Lucknow after India suspended its online visa application facility for the Chinese as part of measures to contain the virus’s spread from the epicentre in Wuhan, China.

The delegation from China was absent from the fourth edition of the East Asia Summit (EAS) maritime meet organised by the external affairs ministry in Chennai on Thursday and Friday. Instead Chinese diplomats from Embassy in Delhi attended the meet. EAS comprises 18 countries — all 10 ASEAN states plus India, China, Russia, USA, Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

There’s also a question mark over the high-level ministerial meetings that were being planned in the first quarter of the year, ET has learnt. These meetings--an outcome of the second informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping--were aimed at preparing for the third informal summit later this year in China.

However, foreign minister S Jaishankar is likely to travel to Vladivostok for Russia-India-China (RIC) Foreign Ministers meet at the end of March. Besides meeting his host Sergey Lavrov, Jaishankar is also expected to meet Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the event.

The Chinese delegation that pulled out of the February 5-9 Defence Expo 2020 was to undergo a screening process before participation, But a statement from health ministry on Monday said, "The facility for submitting the application online for the physical visa from China is suspended."

China, however, is participating in this year’s Autoexpo being held in Greater Noida. Some Chinese executives were present at the event but with protective gear.

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