How has China responded to India's COVID crisis?
Updated 16:02, 10-May-2021
By Duan Fengyuan

India recorded more than 4,000 coronavirus deaths in a day for the first time, the government said Saturday, and to make matters worse, cases have also skyrocketed in countries around India, from Nepal in the north to Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the south.  

China's response to India's plight has attracted global attention because their relationship is essentially about how the two largest developing countries and neighbors get along, especially when one of them is in need. 


No empty talks

Figures on April 22 showed that India had recorded 314,835 new cases in the previous 24 hours, the highest number confirmed in a single day anywhere since the COVID-19 outbreak and its total COVID-19 cases rose by over 400,000 for the fourth consecutive day on Sunday.

And the Chinese Foreign Ministry has expressed its condolences in almost all the seven regular press conferences that took place between April 22 and 30, ahead of China's five-day May Day holiday, with spokespersons stressing that China is willing to assist within its capacity to do so.

This is not empty talk; the help and support have been comprehensive.

India is struggling with the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic as hospitals in several states are reeling under a severe shortage of drugs, equipment, oxygen and beds.

Since April, China has supplied more than 5,000 ventilators, 21,569 oxygen generators, over 21.48 million masks and around 3,800 tonnes of medicines to India, according to statistics of the General Administration of Customs of China.

Anti-epidemic supplies including 100 oxygen concentrators and 40 ventilators donated by the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC), arrived in India on Sunday and the RCSC has also provided $1 million in cash to the Indian Red Cross Society.

As far as it goes, China is providing most oxygen concentrators to India, and keeps producing these and other medical equipment for its neighbor, Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong said on May 4 in a tweet. He has since kept updating on China's support initiatives.

"In the past two weeks, 61 cargo flights have been in operation from China to India, transporting various urgently needed medical supplies for India. The latest cargo flight carrying oxygen generators & other equipment took off from Tianjin, China to India at 11:15am today," read one of Sun's posts on Saturday, attaching in-scene videos of goods being transported.

Read more:

Chinese devices breathe life into India's Mission Oxygen

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message of condolence to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a phone conversation with Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and video conferences for medics from both sides to share related experiences and effective measures were held.

A screenshot of tweets from Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong promising smooth functioning of export channels for medical supplies to India. /Twitter via @China_Amb_Ind

A screenshot of tweets from Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong promising smooth functioning of export channels for medical supplies to India. /Twitter via @China_Amb_Ind

Customs and transportation facilitation to India in purchasing medical supplies were also provided. "China will continue to ensure smooth delivery of anti-epidemic supplies to its neighbor," said Ambassador Sun.

Moreover, as India has become a hot topic on Chinese social networks, many netizens shared their or their family members' experiences of successfully fighting the virus and cheering on their neighbors.

No politics in joint fights against virus

Many countries have extended their hands to help India out of the crisis, but it is worth noting that China's response has attracted more attention as the two Asian giants clashed over their longstanding border dispute in June last year, the first time in decades that the dispute turned deadly.

Though the two sides agreed in early 2021 to a simultaneous military disengagement from one part of their contested border in the region around Pangong Tso Lake area, tensions between the two sides remained high.

Read more:

Will new border clash impact China-India 70-year relationship?

People are wondering if China will adhere to its call of "building a community with a shared future for mankind" when the bilateral relationship is going through a "very difficult phase" as Jaishankar said last Wednesday.

A flight carrying anti-epidemic supplies donated by the Red Cross Society of China with a banner saying "a friend in need is a friend indeed." /Xinhua

A flight carrying anti-epidemic supplies donated by the Red Cross Society of China with a banner saying "a friend in need is a friend indeed." /Xinhua

And China's help proved it is delivering on promises. "The differences on the boundary question should not be allowed to affect the overall development of bilateral relations," said the guiding principles in the Agreement on the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the Boundary Question in 2005.

Experts also suggested that the neighbors should take the chance to meet each other halfway. India should understand and appreciate China's goodwill instead of judging China's support with unbalanced geopolitical biases, wrote Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, in an article published on Global Times.

"We should build bridges of understanding and cooperation," said Sudheendra Kulkarni, an Indian politician and columnist, calling for increased mutual trust between China and India, as he recalled the contribution made by Indian physician Dwarkanath Kotnis in fighting with the Chinese army during WWII.

(Cover: A man suffering from COVID-19 inside the emergency room of Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi, India, May 7, 2021. /Reuters)

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