Wednesday, 5 October, 2022
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Helping China is helping India: Envoy cautions against ‘overreaction’ to coronavirus

In a veiled reference to the trade and travel restrictions imposed by India on China, the ambassador noted that WHO had not advised such restrictions.

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New Delhi: Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong Tuesday said there was no need for India to overreact to the coronavirus epidemic as China’s “early victory” would help bring the country’s economy and trade back on track.

Noting that there will be an impact on China’s economy, albeit short-term, due to the rapid spread of the virus, he said helping them fight it would also be helping India.

“Currently China and India enjoy close cooperation in various areas. More than one million people travel between the two countries every year and the bilateral trade volume is over USD 90 billion. In addition, China is now in the significant position in the global supply chain. Therefore, China’s early victory over the epidemic will be beneficial to the development of both China and India as well as the global economy. It will help bilateral economic and trade cooperation get back on track. In this context, helping China is actually helping yourself,” the Ambassador told a news conference in New Delhi.

In a veiled reference to the trade and travel restrictions imposed by India on China, the ambassador noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO), which declared a global health emergency after the coronavirus outbreak, had not advised such restrictions.

“We should all follow WHO’s professional advice. We should refrain from overreaction,” he said, and added that he hoped bilateral engagements will not get “blocked” due to the challenges China is facing.

Also read: Coronavirus crisis forcing 41% Indians to rethink travel plans this summer, finds survey

Ambassador Sun further recollected how in 2003, then Defence Minister George Fernandes had visited Shanghai in April during the peak of SARS outbreak, dispelling rumours of an epidemic at the time.

“This sort of act of kindness will never be forgotten by the Chinese people,” he said. Sun was then the division director of the Asian department at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, and had welcomed the delegation Fernandes was leading.

Weidong said China hopes to hold annual bilateral exchanges and the planned visits happen soon.

Earlier this month, the Indian government imposed several restrictions on people travelling to and from China. While the health ministry had issued a travel advisory urging people to avoid any visits to China, the external affairs ministry cancelled all e-visas of travellers.

A delegation of Chinese wrestlers, who were travelling to India for the Asian Wrestling Championship, was reportedly denied visas.

India has three confirmed cases of coronavirus while the death toll from the epidemic has crossed 1800 in China.

Also read: Isolation, counselling, paracetamol — how Kerala is treating coronavirus patients

Restrictions, and a helping hand

Though India has issued several advisories, Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered to help China face the challenges arising from the epidemic, such as shortage in supplies of medical equipment.

“India will soon send a consignment of medical supplies to China,” India’s Ambassador to China Vikram Misri had tweeted Sunday.

Talking about the hit to China’s economy, Ambassador Sun said, “In the short term, the downward pressure on China’s economy will increase, but the impact is still local, temporary and limited. China is a major country with strong resilience, great potential and ample room for manoeuvre. We will stick to meeting this year’s targets for economic and social development.”

Cracking the virus code

Sun said China has yet to fully understand the virus and that scientists are working on it. However, so far it has become clear that the coronavirus originated from nature and was not man-made.

The ambassador also said the Chinese government is ensuring that the remaining Indian citizens living in the affected areas of Wuhan and Hubei were being taken care of.

India has already sent two flights to bring back its nationals, and is planning on sending a third flight soon.

Misri said the government is willing to bring nationals of India’s neighbours as well on the third flight.

Earlier this month, India had airlifted seven Maldivian citizens from Wuhan when it evacuated a second batch of Indians from China.

Also read: 4 key dates, 4 missed chances – the story of how China failed to contain coronavirus


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