India has reportedly backed for an EU draft resolution tabled at the World Health Assembly (WHA) calling for a probe into the source of the COVID-19 virus. Yet, it is clearly misguided for some Western media to speculate that countries backing the draft will bring pressure on China.
The draft will not pose a problem for China as scientists have already refuted the conspiracy theory that the virus originated in a Wuhan lab. Tracing the source of the virus is a scientific issue that should be evaluated by scientists based on evidence. What China has been opposing is the malicious attempts by some countries to politicize it and blame China based on the presumption of guilt.
Meanwhile, there are also countries like India that haven’t followed the US in jumping on the China-bashing game regarding the pandemic issue. They are seemingly not as hostile to China as the US and Australia, even if some people in those countries back calls for an investigation into the origin of the new coronavirus.
Some observers have interpreted China’s recent suspension of Australian beef imports and tariffs on Australian barley as retaliatory measures following Australia’s push for an inquiry into the virus’ origin, but it should be noted that China will not impose “economic sanctions” on Australia simply because it supports an inquiry. Still, China has the freedom to give the cold shoulder to any country deemed unfriendly.
As far as we can tell, India has not directly leaned toward the US, indicating the South Asian nation won’t take a stand on the pandemic issue. And that’s the prudence a country’s government should have in navigating the changing geopolitical landscape.
There is no denying that the current situation is also complicated and changeable. Some may expect that the US would support a manufacturing shift from China to India in the post-pandemic era, but that is actually out of the US’ control and is not what it hopes to do. It is now up to India to decide how it will handle its relations with China and the US, which will certainly test its governance.
India has just, for the third time, extended its nationwide lockdown which began on March 24. That is expected to result in a serious economic downturn in the second quarter. Against such a backdrop, it is essential for India and China to maintain positive economic and trade relations, which will be conducive to its trade and investment prospects.
Moreover, China’s work resumption has enabled it to offer new growth impetus to its neighbors, and sound economic cooperation between China and India – the two largest emerging markets in Asia – is crucial to economic recovery in the region.