Fearing next wave, China doesn't want its diaspora to come back

The new approach also runs counter to that taken by countries like Singapore, Australia and Canada, which have urged their citizens working and studying overseas to come home.
A wave of coronavirus infections from people travelling into China is putting the country on edge over whether it should keep the doors open to its students and workers who live elsewhere.

 
Shaken by the almost 600 “imported” infections it’s caught after it brought its domestic case growth to zero, the Asian nation has already announced a sealing of its borders to foreigners from Saturday. But the move won’t stop the wave, given that 90 per cent of the imported virus cases are Chinese nationals returning from other countries, according to data from China’s foreign ministry.

 
Beijing is actively discouraging its 11 million Chinese diaspora from coming home, telling them that it would mean long delays in their studies and jobs overseas. And it’s no longer sending chartered flights to get citizens home, an about-turn from an earlier policy that saw it bring plane loads of Chinese back from Iran and Japan.

 
The new approach also runs counter to that taken by countries like Singapore, Australia and Canada, which have urged their citizens working and studying overseas to come home.

 
After bringing its epidemic under control through draconian measures that quarantined a region of 60 million people and caused a historic economic contraction, China is now fearful of a second peak as the pandemic accelerates overseas. Over 81,000 people have been infected and over 3,200 have died in China since the virus was first reported last December.

 
“Students may face long-term delay in their study or work if they return to China, as the outbreak may well last one or two years,” said Zhang Wenhong, a Shanghai-based Chinese epidemiologist, in an online chat with overseas Chinese students organised by the Chinese embassy in Dusseldorf, Germany, on March 17. Zhang also told them that younger people have a lower chance of becoming seriously ill after contracting the virus.


Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel