Beijing, Sep 17 (PTI) China and India are maintaining communication through "unimpeded" diplomatic channels to facilitate the travel of "necessary people" to this country during the current COVID-19 travel restrictions, a senior Chinese Foreign Ministry official said here on Friday.

Thousands of Indians, including 23,000 students and hundreds of those working in China besides their families, have been stranded due to visa and flight restrictions imposed by the Chinese government for over 18 months, citing the coronavirus protocols.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, replying to a question whether there is a communication between the two countries over Indians stranded back home due to COVID-19 travel restrictions clamped by China, said: “We are maintaining communication through unimpeded diplomatic channels in both Beijing and New Delhi”.

Given the ongoing complex and grave situation of the pandemic, China applies equal quarantine measures to all inbound travellers, including its own citizens, based on the evolving situation, realities on the ground and science-based assessment, he said.

“The travel of India's necessary personnel to China has always been guaranteed,” he said, apparently referring to the movement of diplomatic personnel between the two countries.

“We hope that the Indian side will also treat Chinese nationals going to India in an equal manner, create a necessary and healthy environment for them to work and live in India, and jointly do a good job in personnel exchanges between the two sides,” Zhao added.

Currently, there are no flight services between China and India, and third country travel too was banned by Beijing due to the outbreak of the second wave of COVID-19 in the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere.

Hundreds of Indians and families besides over 23,000 students who went home for holidays and due to COVID-19 surge in Wuhan since early 2020 are still stuck in India due to travel restrictions imposed by China as the virus had spread to India and different parts of the world.

While a few hundred Indians managed to return in Vande Bharat flights permitted by China till November last year, over 2000 Indians were still stuck back home after Beijing re-imposed the travel ban.