SHANGHAI – China has vowed to encourage its private companies to help India in its battle against a drastic surge in Covid-19 cases which has seen repeated daily global records of new infections and local media reports that patients are dying because of a lack of oxygen supplies.
As reported in South China Morning Post, Wang Xiaojian, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in India, said the country had the firm support of China’s government and its people in the fight against the pandemic.
“We will encourage and guide Chinese companies to actively cooperate with India to facilitate acquiring medical supplies, and provide support and help according to India’s need,” he said, in an embassy statement on Monday night.
In separate remarks, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China and India were in communication over the pandemic response, and that Beijing would provide materials, if requested by New Delhi. He also called on India’s fellow members of the Quad security alliance – Australia, the United States and Japan – to help the stricken country.
“I hope these nations can jointly provide India and related countries with support and assistance within their capacity to fight the epidemic, and fulfil their due international responsibilities and obligations,” Wang said.
Zhu Yongbiao, a professor of international relations at Lanzhou University, said China’s help was likely to include medical equipment, vaccines, and prevention and treatment plans, depending on the Indian government’s request and the pandemic situation.
“China may also encourage and support Chinese-funded companies in India to provide assistance through non-governmental ways,” He said.
Jasmine Cheng, a sales representative at Nanjing Bangwin Import & Export, a company specialising in gas products, said the firm had received hundreds of inquiries from potential customers in India for oxygen generators, cylinders and regulators.
Cheng said she expected the company would have more export orders in coming weeks, but so far despite the number of inquiries few deals had been made.
Chinese diplomatic missions to Sri Lanka and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific announced on Twitter that some 800 oxygen concentrators were delivered from Hong Kong to Delhi, with 10,000 more to be delivered in a week.
In a bid to boost supplies, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced on Saturday that it was waiving import duties on vaccines, oxygen and related equipment. On Sunday, following a call between US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, Washington said the US would immediately deploy assistance to India.
The US also lifted its ban on the export of raw materials for Covid-19 vaccines – after criticism last week that it had snubbed India’s appeal to let the materials through, citing its responsibility to look after the American people first.
Without naming the US, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday that China was never absent from providing aid in major disasters and challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, pointing out that China had already provided vaccines to more than 80 nations and four international organisations.
China’s offer to help follows months of tension along its disputed border with India and little apparent progress in the most recent round of talks between the two countries’ militaries.