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View: India should support int'l probe into origin of virus, restoration of Taiwan's participation in WHA

Author: Kanwal Sibal
Publication: The Economic Times
Date:  May 18, 2020
URL:      https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/view-india-should-support-intl-probe-into-origin-of-virus-restoration-of-taiwans-participation-in-wha/articleshow/75797204.cms

India should take maximum advantage from the deterioration of US-China ties. It is the US and its allies that fuelled China’s uncontrolled rise which gave it the sinews for its mounting ambitions.

India should take maximum advantage from the deterioration of US-China ties. It is the US and its allies that fuelled China’s uncontrolled rise which gave it the sinews for its mounting ambitions. If China’s aggrandisement has to be curbed, the US and its allies are in best position to do so. If they succeed India would benefit as China’s zeal to dominate Asia will be bridled and, more importantly, Chinese pressure on India would get reduced. China would have to focus primarily on limiting the damage to its political, economic and security interests of a confrontation with the US.

Because of its economic size and market power, control over critical global supply chains, delay in any serious decoupling, China can retaliate, but there would be overriding compulsion to cut its losses, unless it nurtures delusions that with US power declining it can combat it globally, a mindset that its gross “wolf warrior diplomacy” reflects. China’s Middle Kingdom notions of hierarchy that Xi Jinping has seemingly internalised, and his belief that China’s model of governance is superior to that of the western democracies, may prove a serious miscalculation.

China’s record of animosity towards India is a glaring one. It has consistently undermined India’s vital interests by opposing its permanent membership of the UN Security Council and NSG membership, using Pakistan as a proxy to neutralise India strategically, pursuing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in full awareness of its illegality, and now signing on to the Diamer-Bhasha dam in Gilgit Baltistan. Worse, its effort to inscribe the Kashmir issue on the UNSC agenda has been a grave provocation. China protects Pakistan on the issue of terrorism directed at India, constantly challenges our sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh, refuses to clarify the Line of Actual Control in the north, and has now opened a new front on the undisputed Sikkim-Tibet border. It seeks to erode India’s influence in neighbouring countries, and raise additional security challenges for India through its maritime policies in the Indian Ocean. China baulks at any serious measure to reduce our yawning trade deficit with it. There is virtually nothing on the positive side of the ledger of our ties with China.

In this background, India should do nothing to alleviate the mounting pressure on China to come clean on the Wuhan virus issue that has had a devastating impact on global society. India should support an independent international probe with China’s cooperation into the origin of the virus and China’s handling of it in the early stages. It should be pointed out that this is not a bilateral issue between China and India; it is one between China and the international community which has a right to protect itself from such pandemics in the future through an impartial investigation into what went wrong.

India should also support the restoration of Taiwan’s participation as an observer in the forthcoming World Health Assembly on the basis of Taiwan sharing valuable information about its success in controlling the virus. China’s bid to exclude Taiwan on the grounds of “One-China policy” has no legal basis. This is China’s political position accommodated by many for political reasons. China cannot claim others support its territorial integrity while it violates theirs with impunity, be it in the South China Sea or in the Himalayas. If China succeeded in thwarting the US, European, Japanese and Australian move to support an independent virus enquiry and on Taiwan’s participation, it would garner a major diplomatic victory that will shift the power balance further in its favour, which is not in India’s interest.

* (The writer is former foreign secretary)

 

 
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