He Yongjie, Li Gen
Although WHO has repeatedly stressed that it does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions against China and calls on countries to take convincing measures based on evidence, some countries have ignored WHO recommendations and adopted a series of “restriction” measures against China, and some countries have even used the epidemic to attack China. It is understandable that some countries impose “restriction” based on their own health standards and their ability to respond to sudden public health events, but is“restriction” the only solution to prevent and control outbreaks?
India, which borders China, is also a populous country, and India recently reported two confirmed cases following the confirmation of the first case of pneumonia caused by the Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia in the southern Indian state of Kerala on January 30. Based on the current medical and health level in India, the epidemic is likely to continue to break out in India, but India does not view the epidemic in China correctly, ignoring the actual situation in its own country and repeatedly making some irrational behavior.
According to New Delhi Television, India arranged two flights on February 1 to transport 654 Indian citizens home from Wuhan,China. India’s insistence on evacuating overseas Indians is nothing more than to show the strength of a powerful country, but it does not take into account the actual situation in India. If it does not have a certain ability to prevent and control the epidemic, it will only further spread the virus and bring greater pressure and challenges to the prevention and control of the epidemic in South Asia. In addition to evacuating overseas Indians, India’s General Administration of Foreign Trade recently issued a circular banning the export of personal protective equipment such as medical masks and protective clothing, but did not specify the reasons.
In addition, India has also closed the cotton market to China and substantially raised import tariffs. China, as one of the world’s largest importers of cotton and the largest buyer of Indian cotton, has brought huge trade losses to the two countries. In addition, the China Internet Security Monitoring Center recently captured an organization that used the Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia epidemic to launch a APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) attack on China’s medical field, which belongs to an Indian hacker organization. At a difficult time when China is fighting Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia, it carry out hacker attacks on China’s medical field. Once the plot succeeds, the consequences will be terrible.
The epidemic is a global public health event, not a national problem, blindly taking “restriction” measures is not the only solution, nor is it conducive to the effective prevention and control of the epidemic. Compared with the strong assistance from other countries to China, India’s approach is really difficult to understand. China and India have close economic and trade relations and frequent cross-border personnel exchanges, which is a community with a shared future. India needs to strengthen close cooperation with China to jointly combat the challenge of the epidemic. The author has two thoughts on this:
Firstly, the notification of epidemic situation in many countries is very scattered at present, there is no perfect information reporting mechanism, and there are many false news and rumors. The government departments of the two countries should strengthen cooperation and establish a real-time information sharing mechanism and a transnational joint prevention and control system.
Secondly, China maintains its position as India’s largest trading partner all the year round, and India is also China’s largest trading partner in South Asia. In 2019, the total value of bilateral trade between China and India reached 639.52 billion yuan, an increase of 1.6% over the same period last year. China and India have a high degree of interdependence, so adopting trade restrictions on China cause destruction to both sides. In response, the two countries can take measures to resume suspended trade, such as distinguishing import and export trade from human exchanges, strengthening epidemic prevention and relaxing restrictions on import and export trade. In addition, India should increase its donation to Chinese masks and other protective equipment, lift trade restrictions on medical goods, step up cooperation in the research and development of vaccines, and find a cure.
China has the experience of successfully resisting SARS and Ebola Virus, and China is fully confident and capable of winning this war of prevention and control of the epidemic. Governments and people around the world should maintain sufficient confidence in China instead of taking a series of “restrictive” measures. As the Director-General of the World Health Organization said, “this is a time for unity, not stigmatization.”
He Yongjie is a scholar at Yunnan University Institute of International Relations,China.
Li Gen is a scholar at Yunnan University Institute of International Relations,China.