China International Student Covid Update Timeline

This is part of our weekly tracker of Covid updates for international students of Chinese universities.

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Timeline of News and Events for International Students

  • 🇵🇰 As of April 26, 2022, it is reported that some 200 visas are being issued for Pakistani students (source).
    • Not every Pakistani student has been contacted yet.
    • What date the visas will be issued and what date the students can fly to China has not yet been confirmed.
  • 🇱🇰 As of April 21, 2022, the Sri Lankan Embassy in Beijing confirms that some Sri Lankan students are able to return to China
    • This notice has been removed from the Sri Lankan Embassy website. Though removed, it has not been denied by Beijing nor Sri Lanka. It is likely that Sri Lankan students will still be able to return, but without being publicized. (Sri Lankan students, please contact your embassy for more information)
    • 2 groups of students (number, university, and degree level unknown) have been finalized, with more to come.
  • As of April 19, 2022, International Students currently living in Hong Kong may be allowed to be exempt from certain quarantine requirements if they travel to Macao for university.
      • This guideline is only for foreign students traveling from HK to Macao.
  • As of April 14, 2022, China announced it will be sticking with its dynamic Covid-Zero strategy.
    • “China will stick to its dynamic zero COVID-19 policy as cases continue to spread, said Mi Feng, spokesperson for the National Health Commission.”
  • As of April 5, 2022, China is battling a severe Omicron outbreak across multiple cities.
    • Shanghai is under strict lockdowns, and all Shanghai universities are closed with students taking online classes. (Source)
    • “An average of 11,023 cases per day were reported in China in the last week.” — NYTimes Data
    • Entry to China is very difficult even for those with valid visas.
  • As of March 21, 2022, 80+ Solomon Islander students are reported to have left for China as scholarship recipients (sourcesource). Like Nicaragua, the Solomon Islands switched their diplomatic affiliation from Taiwan to China. The students’ trip to China was planned since 2019 and has been delayed by Covid until now (sourcesource).
    • Like Nicaragua, this appears to be a diplomatic measure for the Solomon Islands after making the diplomatic switch and will not impact the situation of other students in the Pacific (See more).
  • As of March 18, 2022, some Thai students are supposed to have entered China (source). This information was delivered anonymously and thus we cannot confirm independently.
    • The Thai students (unknown number, unknown university) are said to have arrived in Shanghai for quarantine.
  • As of March, 2022, China is facing a serious wave of Omicron cases in key cities such as Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai, and others. Entry plans will likely be slowed down until the wave is over.
  • As of March 16, 2022, China is relaxing its Covid treatment protocols for the first time since 2020. Asymptomatic cases will no longer need to be hospitalized, and will instead just have to quarantine. Post-hospital isolation was shortened from 14 to 7 days. Additionally, the standard to be discharged from the hospital has been relaxed. (Original Chinese here)

Border opening timeline

  • As of March 14, 2022– Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian announced “On the basis of ensuring safety, it is coordinating arrangement for a small number of foreign students with actual needs to return to China in light of the changing international epidemic situation and the characteristics of the students’ majors.”
    • Health and safety are first priority. Zhao said: “The students concerned must strictly comply with China’s epidemic prevention protocols.”
    • More opening is likely to come. Zhao said: “We will…actively explore feasible options and gradually arrange for those with the need to return in an orderly fashion”
    • Read our full analysis on Global Admissions here.
  • As of March 4, 2022–Two Sessions: The springtime meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), starting March 4, is usually a time when policy proposals are considered and old policies may be adjusted. We are monitoring the policies that may be relevant to students.
    • March 5, 2022: President Xi Jinping said in his speech, “We should…give priority to epidemic control at port-of-entry areas, and ensure the bottom line that no large-scale resurgences arise.”

when can students go to China? new policies discussed at the Two Sessions Border opening timeline

  • As of March 1, 2022, multiple news outlets and experts reported China is considering moving away from the “Dynamic Zero-Covid” policy (Sources here: SupChinaWall Street JournalSCMP). A new Covid-19 plan is possibly in the research and planning stages, yet and no concrete dates/changes have been announced so far. But it won’t change any time soon: Global Times defended the Zero-Covid strategy in a March 4 article.

  • 🇮🇳 As of Feb 22, 2022, the Indian Embassy in Beijing announced that the Chinese MFA “conveyed that they will work on Indian students’ early return to China in a coordinated manner.” The issue of Indian medical students not being able to sit the FMGE with online degrees was also formally conveyed to the Chinese side. Additionally, “All Indian nationals who are intending to travel to China are advised to remain in touch with the Chinese Embassy in Delhi and Consulates in Mumbai and Kolkata for further information.”
  • 🇳🇮 As of Feb 8, 2022, 30 Nicaraguan scholarship holders entered China to continue their studies “in various branches,” Nicaraguan news media reports. The students (degree level and field of study unknown) traveled from Hong Kong to Shanghai, and onward to their final study destinations in Beijing and Wuhan.
    • Context: In December, Nicaragua ended relations with Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with the PRC. There is no report of further entry opportunities for other Nicaraguan or South American students.
  • 🇸🇬 As of Feb 7, 2022, Wang Wenbin, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said China is prepared to gradually return two-way travel with Singapore, including students.
  • 🇵🇰 As of Feb 6, 2022, China and Pakistan announced in a joint statement: “While ensuring safety against COVID-19, China will arrange for Pakistani students to return to China and resume classes in a prudent manner.” No specific date of return has yet been clarified.
  • As of Jan 4, 2022, the China International Student Union posted the results of a survey about returning to China on their Twitter account. 76% of Russian student respondents reported their university notified them they could return to China in batches throughout the spring, but no clear date was given.
    • Russian students also reported they would need to pay for quarantine fees for approximately 21 days of quarantine (note: quarantine times change by city and province).
    • March 10 note: Given the current war between Russia and Ukraine, the return of Russian students is at this point still unconfirmed.

Border opening timeline

  • 🌏 As of Dec 10, 2021, the Global Times posted that travel may resume within Asian countries from 3-6 months. However, China has said it will continue its “zero-Covid” policy.
  • 🇲🇾 As of Dec 6, 2021, Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah has said that Malaysian students may be able to return to China soon for their studies. There has not been a confirmed date or other information, but it indicates a high degree of confidence and collaboration between the Malaysian and Chinese governments. We advise Malaysian students to keep an eye on the news.


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Savannah Billman has a master's degree in Chinese Law and Society at the Yenching Academy of Peking University. She holds a B.A. from NYU Shanghai and has also written for The World of Chinese, TechNode, SupChina, and Sixth Tone.
Savannah Billman

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