Travel restrictions

Won’t travel restrictions soon be lifted for students?

Authorities have imposed a lockdown on Shanghai amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in China’s most populous city. The global financial hub is undergoing a two-stage lockdown over more than 26 million inhabitants.

Citing local reports, Reuters reported that military and health care workers had been sent to Shanghai to perform COVID-19 tests for all its inhabitants on Monday.

The Associated Press said the lockdown would be the most extensive in China since Wuhan – ground zero for the pandemic. The virus was first detected in the city in late 2019, confining its 11 million residents to their homes for 76 days in early 2020.

Under Shanghai lockdown, residents will have to stay at home; deliveries will be left at checkpoints to ensure no contact with the outside world. Public transport will be suspended while non-essential businesses will be closed.

China sent military and thousands of health workers to Shanghai on Monday to run COVID-19 tests for its 26 million people, according to reports. Source: Hector Retamal/AFP

How will the Shanghai lockdown affect international students?

Shanghai’s lockdown suggests China won’t be moving away from its zero COVID strategy anytime soon.

International students have been desperate to return to China for over two years, but the country’s harsh border closures means most travelers cannot return to the country.

According to reports, however, South Korean students have been granted an exemption to return. According to China’s Ministry of Education, there were nearly 500,000 international students in China in 2018, more than half of them from Asia.

The students expressed their frustration at the lack of support and information from Chinese universities and authorities regarding their return by using the hashtag #TakeStudentsBacktoChina on Twitter.

recent China International Students Union (CISU) student survey“How China’s Travel Ban Has Affected the Lives of International Students,” provided insight into what students have experienced due to China’s prolonged border closure.

Many respondents said their mental and physical health had declined due to China’s travel ban.

Students were unable to gain practical experience for their MBBS program and sleep less due to the time difference between China and their home country. More than 50% of students said their mental health had declined significantly due to China’s travel ban.

Nearly 47% of respondents would not recommend China as a study or travel destination to friends and family; in comparison, only 25% said they would.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian previously told a press conference that China “is coordinating arrangements for a small number of foreign students with real needs to return to China in light of the evolution of the international epidemic situation and the characteristics of the majors of the students”.

“Affected students should strictly adhere to China’s epidemic prevention protocols,” he said.

Shanghai is home to some of the best universities in the country, including Fudan University, NYU Shanghai, and China Europe International Business School (CEIBS).