China envoy highlights study issue
Wait continues to resume China studies
Thai students will be among the first who are allowed to return to China when the country reopens its borders, according to Chinese ambassador Han Zhiqiang.
The assurance was given during an online media interview on Wednesday, which was also attended by an education counsellor, Fan Xuewei.
It was the first time for Mr Han to meet the press since he arrived in Thailand to take up his post.
Thai students' call to resume their studies in China was among the topics raised during the interview. Beijing has yet to allow foreign students to resume their university studies in China after it closed the borders when the coronavirus pandemic broke out in March last year.
Mr Han said Chinese officials understand the students' concerns and the inconvenience of studying online, and they are doing their best to address the issue.
He said China has suspended visas for foreign visitors, with some exceptions, as part of its Covid-19 containment initiatives, noting the measure has been effective.
He said China has witnessed a resurgence of infections linked to imported cases, and mass testings and stepped-up surveillance have been adopted to curb any outbreaks.
The ambassador said more precautions were being applied to universities due to the transmission risks related to them having large crowds.
He hoped that students could understand China's need to impose travel restrictions to protect the country from more outbreaks.
However, Mr Han said he has held talks with his staff and asked a counsellor for education to coordinate between Thai students and Chinese education outlets to facilitate their studies.
The embassy has also been in talks with Chinese agencies in charge of Covid-19 prevention measures, as well as education authorities in China, about the possibility of allowing students to resume their studies once Covid-19 has been brought under control, he said.
Asked if it would be possible to introduce a quarantine system for Thai students, Mr Han said Chinese authorities are working on the issue.
"If the Chinese government is ready to allow hundreds of thousands of international students to return, Thai students will be among the first," Mr Han said.
Last month thousands of students petitioned the Thai and Chinese governments to help them return to class using the hashtag #TakeThaikidsbacktoChina on Twitter.
Many were concerned about completing their degree, especially science and medical students who need to perform laboratory or clinical work.
More than 30,000 Thai students are enrolled in study programmes in China, making them the second-largest group of foreign students there, after South Koreans.