BEIJING: Recent hyping of anti-China sentiment on India’s social media networks may risk sabotaging potential cooperation between the two neighbors in the global pandemic fight.
Last week, senior Indian politician Manish Tewari tweeted that the coronavirus “should be called China Virus” and COVID-19 “is a misnomer.” Tewari is among those who repeatedly use the terms “China virus” or “Wuhan virus,” and alleged that China should take the blame for the global spread of the coronavirus, according to an article published by Global Times here on Thursday.
Only narrow-minded nationalists would exploit a global pandemic, which knows no borders or races, to inflame a conflict between countries. There is an acknowledged consensus that a virus should not be linked to any specific country or region. Fears about the pandemic may fuel irrational sentiment, but that should not be the excuse for becoming too extreme to the point of being xenophobic and racist.
Such rhetoric stigmatizing China only creates obstacles to addressing the real problems. Specifically, the anti-China nationalist sentiment among some individual Indians will do no good to China-India cooperation in the pandemic fight, which is crucial to the Indian side given its fragile medical system.
Although the Modi government imposed a 21-day national lockdown last week, it may only serve to slow the outbreak, and the country still needs to prepare sufficient medical resources before the outbreak hits its peak. What happened in some EU countries already showed how a surge in patients can strain a medical system in the most desperate way.
At this juncture, when the US and many EU countries are grappling with the pandemic, China may be one of the few countries with the ability to help others, and probably the only one that has the ability to help a country as populous as India. The two sides haven’t reached any consensus on medical cooperation on the official level, even though the Indian government is reportedly buying personal protective equipment from China.
The last thing we need at this delicate moment is a conflict provoked by some anti-China nationalists, which will only lead to mistrust and ruin any possibility of cooperation during the coronavirus fight.
There are also some Indians uncomfortable about China’s aid to Pakistan given India’s longstanding hostility to and military conflicts with Pakistan. But it should be noted that the global virus is a humanitarian crisis, and any national hatred or politicized mindset is trivial compared with the global effort to fight the virus.