New Delhi: In a strong retaliatory move against China, the government has informally asked all airlines- both Indian and foreign – to stop flying Chinese nationals to India, according to sources. Over the weekend, airlines were reportedly specifically asked not to fly in Chinese nationals to India. This comes after the Chinese government stopped Indians from flying to China.Also Read - Chinese Citizen Journalist Jailed For Four Years For Coronavirus Reporting

Even though flights between India and China remain suspended, Chinese nationals are eligible to travel to India according to the current norms for foreigners. Chinese nationals have been travelling to India by first flying to another country with which India has a travel bubble, and then from there they catch flights to India. Also Read - China Says no 'Link' Between Stranded Indian ship Crew And Its Strained Ties with India, Australia

Majority of the Chinese nationals flying to India have been coming from China via air bubble countries in Europe, or those who live in the air bubble countries. Also Read - New Strain of Coronavirus: China Bans UK Flights Indefinitely

At present, tourist visas to India remain suspended. However, foreigners are allowed to travel to India for work or business.

Sources said some airlines asked authorities to provide them something in writing so that they can give a reason for not letting Chinese nationals to board the flights they booked to come to India which is allowed under current norms.

Later, several airline operators denied reports of any such informal direction from the government. Sources said airlines have not received instructions not to fly Chinese nationals to India and are still boarding all passengers as per the current norms.

The government also denied the reports, with Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri saying there was no such direction from the government’s side.

“It is wrong to make suggestions as to citizen of which country should come. There is no such information from our side,” the Aviation Minister said.

This comes in the backdrop of around 1,500 Indian seafarers being stranded in various Chinese ports as China is refusing to allow on shore or even to change the crews and they can’t even come back to India.

China suspended the entry of foreign nationals of some countries including India in early November due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

China’s decision came after 20 passengers of a Delhi-Wuhan Air India flight tested positive for COVID-19 on October 30 and another 40 people had COVID antibodies.