China has said it will allow Indian students to return to the country based on their needs, the Indian embassy announced on Friday.

The decision came after India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on March 25, the embassy said.

China follows a strict “zero-Covid-19” policy to control the spread of the coronavirus and has banned foreign students from entering the country since the pandemic broke out in December 2019. More than 20,000 Indian students, enrolled in Chinese universities, are stranded in India for over two years and are currently studying through online classes.

China remains the only country to have banned the entry of foreign students, except those from South Korea.

Since February, Indian students have been campaigning and demanding that they be allowed to return to Chinese universities. They have repeatedly urged the Indian government to take up the matter with China.

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On Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a media briefing that Beijing gives high importance to the concerns raised by Indian students, reported PTI. The spokesperson said that his government has shared with India the procedures and experience of students of other countries returning to China.

“Actually, the work for Indian students’ return has already been started,” Zhao said. “All that remains to be done is for the Indian side to provide the list of students who really need to come back to China.”

New Delhi said it was preparing a list to share with Beijing and asked those who want to go back to fill up a form by May 8.

The Indian embassy said after it has collected the information, it would ask the Chinese side to verify the list and inform whether the students can return.

“The Chinese side has also conveyed that eligible students should unconditionally abide by the Covid-19 prevention measures, and agree to bear all expenses related to Covid-19 prevention measures by themselves,” it added.