India-China bonding in times of epidemic: Modi writes to Xi, expresses solidarity

The bonding between India and China is set to be deepened in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi writing a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping expressing solidarity and offering assistance to deal with the situation.

In a letter to President Xi, Mr Modi condoled the loss of lives in China since the outbreak of the disease in the country’s Hubei province last month. He also conveyed his appreciation to the Government of China for facilitating the evacuation of the Indian citizens from Hubei.

This year has special significance for India-China relations as the two Asian giants celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

To date, more than 800 people have died in viral infections across China. One death each was also reported from Hong Kong and the Philippines last week.

India has suspended visas of Chinese nationals from the mainland as part of its health restrictions for coronavirus. The decision was taken after suspected coronavirus infections were detected in people who had recently traveled to China. However, the restrictions were not for the residents of Hong Kong.

‘China will overcome’

Earlier, Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong met India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and exchanged views on China-India relations, especially bilateral coordination and cooperation on combat against the novel coronavirus pneumonia. Ambassador Sun briefed India’s top diplomat on the latest progress in the fight against the epidemic, saying that the World Health Organization highly appreciates China’s efforts and does not recommend or even oppose any travel or trade restrictions. The Chinese envoy underlined that as neighbors “we hope that India will make an objective, fair, calm and rational assessment of the epidemic and continue to understand and support China’s efforts to combat the epidemic.”

On January 31, in a telephonic conversation with China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had expressed India’s solidarity with China and expressed confidence in China’s ability to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Jaishankar underlined that India appreciates China’s openness, transparency and sense of responsibility in dealing with the outbreak. He stressed that India has confidence in China’s ability to ultimately overcome this challenge.

Mr Jaishankar also underscored that it is important to evaluate the outbreak in an objective and rational manner and not take actions that may complicate the situation. India is confident that China will ultimately prevail over this challenge, said Mr Jaishankar.

Meanwhile, Raveesh Kumar, the spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry, said that India is closely monitoring the situation in China, and if required it will extend all possible help.

Last week, President Xi had ordered a high alert and called for all-out efforts to stop the spread of the virus after a vast swath of central China came under its grip.

President Xi also called for expediting the drug research and finding a solution against the virus.

He also stressed on international cooperation to the fight epidemic. China’s National Health Commission has designated the virus as category B infectious disease. The virus causes pneumonia in people and can transmit from people-to-people.

(With inputs from Sanjeeb Baruah and Shweta Aggarwal)


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