Don’t let differences shade ties, says China’s Ambassador Sun Weidong


India and China have kept up “close communication and cooperation” since the COVID-19 outbreak, said China’s Ambassador to India Sun Weidong, adding that he was “impressed” by India’s handling of the pandemic thus far. While he made no direct reference to the ongoing stand-off between the two neighbours armies at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and Sikkim, Mr. Sun said that India and China should “never let the differences shadow the overall situation of bilateral cooperation”, referring to the two countries as the “Dragon and Elephant dancing together”.

Also read: Trump offers to ‘mediate or arbitrate’ between India and China

“Our two leaders President Xi Jinping and Prime Minster Narendra Modi have exchanged letters, and our foreign ministers made phone calls twice to strengthen our anti-epidemic cooperation,” said Mr. Sun, speaking at an Internet seminar or webinar for “Indian Youth” on Wednesday. He added that Indian companies had helped with supplies on 45 Indian cargo flights to China, while Chinese companies like Alibaba, Fosun, SANY Group had assisted India with masks, protective suits, medical gloves and ventilators.

‘Swift action’

When asked what he thought of India’s response to the pandemic, Mr. Sun said he had been “impressed with several things”, including what he called “swift action” in placing a lockdown across the country on March 25, when confirmed cases of the virus weren’t very high. Praising the “solidarity” and “cooperation” with which Indians had responded to lockdown restrictions, the Ambassador remarked that a “majority of the Indian people follow government instructions and advice to stay at home, and the overall social order has been stable since the lockdown”.

Also read: China says situation at India border ‘overall stable and controllable’

‘Be vigilant’

Referring to the resolution by more than 100 countries at the World Health Assembly this month that called for a full enquiry into the origins of the novel coronavirus, Mr. Sun said all countries should be “vigilant” about what he called “conspiracy theories” that China had concealed the pandemic or that the virus had originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. India, which had backed the resolution at the World Health Assembly, has refused any public comment on the issue of the origin of the virus, stating that these issues must be dealt with only after the threat from the disease recedes.

Also read: What explains the India-China border flare-up?

“We did not cover up anything, and did not delay any efforts. Identifying the source of the virus is a serious and complex issue of science, which should be studied and explored by scientists and medical experts,” Mr. Sun asserted, while addressing students on the webinar.

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