SCIO briefing on the health and security of Chinese students overseas during the COVID-19 outbreak

The State Council Information Office held a press conference in Beijing on April 2 to brief the media on the health and security of Chinese students living overseas during the COVID-19 outbreak. April 6, 2020

Phoenix TV:

My question is to Mr. Ma. We have noticed that many overseas students are struggling with the question of whether they should return or stay. On one hand, they want to continue their studies; on the other hand, they have concerns over the quick spreading of the virus. What advice will the Ministry of Foreign Affairs give to those students, especially for those in the hard-hit countries?

Ma Zhaoxu:

Regarding China's overseas students, first, the number of students studying overseas is quite large. According to the statistics of education authorities, the total number of China's overseas students reaches 1.6 million. Among these, 1.4 million remain abroad now. Second, our overseas students are located in different countries and regions. There are about 410,000 in the U.S., about 230,000 in Canada, about 220,000 in the U.K., about 110,000 in Germany and France, and 280,000 in Australia and New Zealand. There are also 180,000 in Japan and South Korea. These students are widespread. Third, these countries where our students are living are in different phases of the COVID-19 outbreak, and the measures implemented in these countries are also different. Fourth, overseas students are in different situations, so they have varied needs.

Faced with the circumstances described above, we must take them into consideration and implement measures steadily and accurately. The goal is to try everything to ensure that our overseas students are healthy and safe. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education and China's overseas institutions give precise guidelines for overseas students based on different countries' situations. Based on our knowledge, most overseas students have taken the words of advice given by the WHO and China CDC. Following the suggestion of avoiding unessential travel, these students choose to stay where they currently are. This helps to prevent cross-infection caused by their hasty travels. It avoids being stalled in transit countries due to border control restrictions, and it could also avoid possible impact on overseas students' study and visas.

For those students in hard hit countries who do urgently need to return home, the CPC and the Chinese government will take necessary measures in time to help them get home in an orderly fashion. These students should cooperate with civil aviation, ports and local epidemic prevention departments before boarding flights, as well as during time spent on the planes and after crossing the border. And they need to strictly follow the epidemic prevention regulations while being responsible for public safety and their own health. We will continue to follow the requirements and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, take care of and serve overseas students and solve their problems properly. Thank you.

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