When asked about the issue during a daily press briefing, spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that the question had already been raised “many times” and that “each time we gave you a response”.
“I would like to recap our position. First, as [the] Covid-19 situation remains severe, all countries are taking prevention and containment measures based on their own conditions,” he said.
“This is to protect the safety and health of all citizens, including students. I’m sure everyone will understand this.
“Second, we hope the international community will strengthen anti-epidemic cooperation to win the fight as soon as possible so that students can return to campus sooner rather than later.
“Third, on the precondition of observing containment protocols, the Chinese authorities will study in a coordinated manner the matter of allowing foreign students to come back for their studies and maintain communication with relevant parties.”
The recently formed China International Student Union represents a coalition of students from 200 universities across China who argue that online courses are not up to scratch, communication between students, authorities and universities is poor, and that they are being banned from the country while certain other categories of visa holders can return.
Students on medical courses also face the prospect of their qualifications not being valid in their home country if done through online learning.
“It’s good they responded but it obviously didn’t address the problem,” said one of the union’s organisers.
“It’s good they responded but it obviously didn’t address the problem”
In a Tweet the union added “issues with online classes, medical degrees validation and lab work still exist they haven’t gone anywhere.”
One student shared a WeChat conversation they had with their university about taking HSK (Chinese language proficiency) tests if they were not offered in their home country. Screenshots of the messages show the staff member responding that “the world is like this, there is no absolute fairness… I am in vacation but I have to working overtime. Do you think this is fair for me?”.
Some students have now begun calling for a boycott on paying fees for the new semester on social media due to the Chinese government’s “poor and illogical” response. Informal polls on Twitter suggest over 90% are in favour of such action.