File photo for representation (AFP)
NEW DELHI: Stepping up the pressure on China, India has called for a global effort to analyse the “causes and drivers of the Covid-19 pandemic” — the first time after the May 20 World Health Assembly that India is challenging Chinese attempts to obfuscate the origin and spread of the virus, which began in Wuhan.
India had, so far, refrained from pressing China on Covid-19’s origin and reports that information on its spread was suppressed, unlike the US and Australia. As a result, Beijing even threatened Australia with retaliation.
With China posing a military challenge to India along the LAC in Ladakh, New Delhi is signalling that gloves will be off diplomatically. This comes following remarks by the foreign ministry and the Indian ambassador in Beijing that violation of the LAC will impact bilateral ties.
As WHO board chair, India in strong position to drive probe
Addressing the “Alliance for Multilateralism”, a group on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, 2019, foreign minister S Jaishankar said India would “strengthen our belief in scientific approaches. That means, we must set aside politics and focus on facts — whether it is the effort to dispassionately analyse the causes and drivers of the current coronavirus pandemic, or to assess what changes our multilateral health mechanisms need to implement to improve preparations for a future pandemic.”
The World Health Assembly on May 20 adopted a resolution, supported by 122 countries, which called for the world to “identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population, including the possible role of intermediate hosts…” This resolution, proposed by Australia, was piloted by the EU, forcing China to acquiesce to it. Reports have suggested the virus jumped from an animal host to humans at a wet market in Wuhan.
As the new chair of the WHO executive board this year, India will be in a strong position to work on this. “The Resolution adopted at the World Health Assembly last month is an opportunity to use facts and science to assess our response to this pandemic and take those lessons to prepare better for the future. As chair of the WHO executive board, India is ready to work towards these goals.”
China understands that these pressures would be building up against it. In fact, a recent extraordinary China-Africa summit organised by Beijing was apparently intended to quell growing criticism among countries in Africa. China promised that when it develops the Covid vaccine, African countries would be among the first to get it.