As the shadow of the coronavirus looms large over the world, China has launched a global diplomatic outreach and offered to provide further assistance and share its experience in combating the pandemic with India.
“As the pandemic spreads, we have also noted the situation in India. The virus is a challenge to all, and we would like to share our experience with the Indian side and further provide necessary assistance,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a press conference in Beijing on March 23.
“We have received assistance from the Indian side and we applaud that. We have a mechanism of exchanges and China has been notifying the information to India on time,” he said, on being asked about the conspicuous absence of India from the 19 countries that he listed for having received China’s assistance to combat the disease. Mr Geng said that India and China have an “unimpeded channel of exchanges and the exchange is close.”
Mr Geng was briefing the media on last week’s video conference called by China to discuss the coronavirus situation with the health experts of the Eurasian and South Asian countries.
Commenting on China’s offer to provide more assistance to India, Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network and India and the World magazine, said that Beijing’s offer has to be seen as part of larger global solidarity that is being forged by major countries to deal with the novel coronavirus epidemic. “China’s video-conference with South Asian and Eurasian countries is similar to the virtual conference Prime Minister Modi held with the leaders of SAARC countries on March 15,” said Mr Chand. “China’s virtual conference was at the level of officials, but the objective is the same: leveraging regional and global forums to widen the web of cooperation,” he added. “China and India need to step their collaboration to counter the common challenge,” said Chand.
China’s Diplomatic Outreach
On March 20, the Chinese Foreign Ministry, along with the country’s National Health Commission and the General Administration of Customs, held a video conference to brief 19 Eurasian and South Asian countries on China’s experience in the prevention and control of COVID-19. The participants included 11 Eurasian countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as eight South Asian countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Maldives, India, and Bhutan.
“The participating countries attached great importance to the meeting, which was attended by heads of health department and the centers for disease control and prevention, and officials from departments of foreign affairs, civil aviation, the customs and WHO representatives,” Mr Geng said.
In response to the concerns of their foreign counterparts, Chinese experts briefed them on the experience and practices on epidemic prevention and control, clinical diagnosis and treatment, equipment support, and port inspection and quarantine. The four-hour meeting was attended by over 200 people who have highly appraised China’s achievements in fighting against the epidemic and its contribution to global public health, the spokesperson added.
“Going forward, China will continue to uphold the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind and the spirit of mutual assistance and solidarity, share information with the international community in an open, transparent and responsible manner, and deepen international cooperation in epidemic prevention and control,” Mr Geng said.
(Sanjeeb Baruah contributed inputs for this article; edited by Shweta Aggarwal)
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