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As a brutal second wave of the pandemic hit India, China was one of the first countries to offer help, reflecting Beijing’s goodwill towards India, Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong has said.

Quoting what he termed as “incomplete statistics," Sun said China exported more than one lakh oxygen concentrators, 8,000 ventilators, 90,000 thermometers and over 10 crore masks to India just during the first half of May. The delivery of medical goods to India with Chinese workers putting in hours even during the May Day holiday shows that China’s supply chains are reliable, the ambassador said.

China's “customs, civil aviation and other government agencies actively provided facilitation and convenience for the customs clearance and transport of the needy medical supplies from China. Recently, the Chinese side approved more than 10 Indian chartered cargo flights for June. Chinese workers worked overtime during the May Day holiday and completed three batches of medical equipment which were airlifted to Calcutta (Kolkata). Most of goods have been sent to hospitals, local governments and relief agencies in more than 10 states in India," Sun said.

“Let me assure you that, when India fought the pandemic, China was not absent or sat back apathetically," the Chinese ambassador said in a speech to the Confederation of Young Leaders and Students and Faculty from Indian Universities on Tuesday. The remark can be seen as a dig at the US which India considers a key partner but Washington seemed to be slow in reaching out to New Delhi when it was battling the vicious second wave. Ties between India and China on the other hand have been fraught this past year thanks to tensions along their common border in Ladakh. In May last year, India discovered intrusions by the Chinese military along its border in Ladakh. A violent clash between Indian and Chinese troops in June last year resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops – the first casualties in more than four decades. Eleven rounds of talks between the two sides have resulted in the pull back of troops from one point of contention – along the banks of the Pangong Tso lake – but tensions remain heightened along the other friction points.

In his remarks, Sun said that the pandemic – which first came to light in China’s Wuhan city and have triggered international calls for investigations into the origin of the virus – showed that “no country or nation can be safe in the face of the virus."

Noting that the destiny of mankind “is more closely linked than ever," Sun said “China-India cooperation on fighting the covid-19 pandemic is such an example." He recalled a letter sent by Chinese president Xi Jinping to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi at the start of the second wave in India and the interaction between Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

“First, it truly reflects China's goodwill towards India, Sun said pointing out that medical supplies had reached India from China. “Second, China and India have great potential to cooperate," Sun said adding that its showed that “the industrial and supply chains with China's participation are highly effective and reliable." This comes against the backdrop of a move to rely less on supply chains in China and move factories and industries to other bases in a bid to de-risk global commerce. In the early days of the pandemic, China had abruptly shuttered factories as it locked down to prevent the spread of infections, causing chaos in the international system.

According to Sun, a third important element that the pandemic had illustrated was that “cooperation is the only way to beat the virus."

“The virus is invisible and ruthless. All countries are in the same boat, and can only defeat the pandemic through solidarity," he added.

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