Will there be a flood of Chinese students returning from abroad?

In an announcement dated April 5 (in Chinese), the Chinese embassy in the U.S. says that it plans to charter flights for students to return to China. Caixin has more details:

The first batch of applications will be open to minors who aren’t accompanied by their parents.

The embassy said that most Chinese students studying in the U.S. are still in the country, but it will arrange flights “considering the needs of underage students who might face difficulties and need to return to China.”

The students will have to pay their own air fare and cover the cost of their mandatory quarantine when they arrive in China, the embassy said, adding that the Chinese government will not accept responsibility for any risks encountered on the journey…

Of the more than 400,000 overseas Chinese students in the U.S., about 90% of them remain in the country, according to a Friday statement (link in Chinese) from the embassy. “Don’t be too anxious if staying in the U.S. The chance of contracting the disease is very low,” the embassy wrote, adding that three Chinese students in the U.S. have been infected, with two now receiving treatment and one already recovered.

The announcement comes after a similar chartered flight took nearly 200 young students from London back to Jinan, Shandong Province on April 2. Earlier returning students from coronavirus hotspots such as Italy have been dragged online for risking China’s success at containing COVID-19, as SupChina has reported. For more on Chinese students stuck abroad, see:

Meanwhile, China reported dozens more COVID-19 cases over the weekend, most of them asymptomatic or imported. Land borders, including with Russia, are now the target of tightening controls, reports Reuters — despite the fact that returning Chinese nationals account for most imported cases.

Fines of up to 30,000 yuan ($4,230) will be levied on any inbound passenger who is found to “conceal or falsify their health conditions and travel histories,” according to China Daily.

—Lucas Niewenhuis