China sits on India's plea to let it airlift citizens

Coronavirus outbreak: China yet to let India evacuate citizens from ground zero

Beijing promised to provide all necessary assistance if the government of any foreign nation insisted on evacuating its citizens from China.

India could not start airlifting its citizens from the epicenter of a novel coronavirus outbreak in China even on Wednesday, as the government of the communist country did not give its nod to New Delhi's proposal to send special aircraft to evacuate them.

The Embassy of India in Beijing however sought to reassure nearly 250 Indian citizens stranded at Hubei province of China with a post on Twitter, stating that it was working hard to evacuate them. India also upgraded its travel advisory on China, asking citizens to refrain from travelling to the neighbouring communist country in view of the spurt in cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection.

Beijing is apparently trying to dissuade not only India, but also the US, France and other foreign nations from airlifting their citizens from China, as such large-scale evacuation of foreign nationals from its territory may portray it in poor light and undermine the credibility of its claim that it was capable of containing the outbreak.

New Delhi had on Monday requested Beijing to allow it to send special aircraft to airlift the citizens of India from the epicenter of the outbreak in China.

Beijing, however, did not give its nod till the latest report came in on Wednesday.

“Chinese Government (was) requested for permission to operate two flights to bring back our nationals from Hubei Province of China,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, tweeted on Wednesday. “@EOIBeijing (Embassy of India in Beijing) (is) in touch with Chinese authorities on the ground to work out necessary logistics. We will share regular updates.”

Sun Weidong, China's ambassador to India, on Tuesday quoted Dr Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the World Health Organization, saying in Beijing that the apex global health body had not recommended evacuation of foreign nationals from China. Sun also tweeted, quoting Dr Adhanom saying that the WHO had in fact called on the international community to remain calm and not to overreact.

Beijing, however, on Wednesday promised to provide all necessary assistance if if the government of any foreign nation insisted on evacuating its citizens from China. “If a country insists on evacuating its citizens in Wuhan, China will make appropriate arrangements and provide necessary assistance and convenience in accordance with international practice and China's relevant provisions on epidemic prevention,” the PTI quoted a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chinese Government saying in Beijing.

The WHO stated in its latest situation report that the outbreak so far resulted in the death of 107 people in China, while 4537 had been confirmed as infected by the new coronavirus. The international health organization confirmed 56 more cases in 14 countries outside China till Tuesday.

The Embassy of India in Beijing sent out forms to the country's citizens stranded at the epicenter of the outbreak in China – to be filled up by them to give consent to be quarantined and remain under watch for 14 days after being brought back home.