Edit & Opinion

Tracing virus origin: India joins the pack

In the virtual meeting of World Health Assembly (WHA) held on 18 and 19 May, it was decided to investigate the origin of COVID-19. India added her voice to the international clamour. China finally concurred with the demand. Of 194 countries constituting WHO, as many as 160 had demanded an impartial investigation. China had objected when it was raised first time a week or so ago by Australia.

The other issue that concerned the meeting in Geneva was the participation of Taiwan, which was deferred till the last quarter of this year. But it would remain a contentious issue threatening the continuation of the 72-year old world Body.

On the origin of the virus, many countries believe that it is not natural, man-made. China is responsible for unleashing the virus and endangering people’s health in the entire world.  Beijing did not give out the information on time sought by countries like Taiwan as it was suppressing and manipulating the facts on the ground in Wuhan. The WHO Director, Tedros Abhanom Ghebreyesus, was hand-in-glove with the Chinese government in this cover-up.

The investigation will reveal the facts. A longish letter by Donald Trump secured by us from Trump supporters lists out the litany of lapses of the Director pointing to his complicity with Chinese leadership. Trump has, in the same letter, given an ultimatum to the Director, unless visible changes are made to the structure and working of WHO, he will regularise the freeze on funding announced by the US administration. Furthermore, the US threatens to withdraw its membership of WHO.

The background of Tedros’ appointment lends weight to the above assumption and allegations made by Trump and other countries like European Union, Japan, Australia. New Zealand, Germany and France. Tedros is not a doctor, but a politician from Ethiopia. He is a member of Tigray People’s Liberation Front, a radical socialist group infamous for its terrorist methods. It was accused of violating a slew of human rights including hanging water bottles from the genitals of the victims. The Movement adhered to Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideologies. Tedros had ideological links with Chinese Communist Party.

Operationally, Tedros was responsible for carrying forward Chinese African dream through his own country Ethiopia. When Tedros was the Minister for Health, and then Foreign Affairs, he hosted the 50th Belt and Road Summit. He got China to invest $47 million in Ethiopian Railways and billions in building links with other African countries trough Ethiopia. He identified eight industrial parks in Ethiopia to be built by China, and wrote an article in a Chinese official daily jointly with a member of CCP citing it as a model of bilateralism.

As a part of Chinese tactic of buying influence in the international organisations Tedros was appointed the WHO director defeating a British competitor. It was a pay-off by the Chinese to their lackey in Africa. China is accused of buying similar influence in other bodies. It waived off the entire loan of Cameroon as it withdrew its candidature for the post of Director General of FAO. Beijing did the same with another African country and got its person to be the DG of FAO in Rome.

China has given to the world five plagues- Asian flu, SARS, Avian flu, Swine flu, COVID-19. The world is saying now that we can no longer have these plagues coming from China, whether it is from the labs or the wet market. The US leadership says, “We know it came from Wuhan and there is circumstantial evidence that it could have come from the lab or the wet market. The world can longer afford to plagues coming out of China.”

The second issue that is dominating the strategic thinking of world leaders is the participation and membership of Taiwan in WHO. Taiwan is a democratic country, has done remarkably well in combating COVID-19 and has lessons and help to offer to others. China is playing with Taiwan’s participation. It has complained about the US and other countries politicising the world health body by discussing Taiwan-related matters, not how to fight the virus etc. But China itself has politicised the participation of Taiwan in WHO.

Taiwan participated as an observer from 2009 t0 2016 in WHO meetings. It did not then violate the One China policy that China expects the world to honour. China acquiesced with Taiwan’s participation from 2009-16 as Ma ying-jeou of the pro-Chinese party Kuomintang (KMT) was the President of Taiwan from 2008 to 2016. As Dr Tsai Ing-wen of Democratic People’s Party became the president, China withdrew its support of Taiwan’s participation. D. Tsai’s government is for full independence of Taiwan from China.

The US is advocating full membership of Taiwan in WHO. Other major countries are supporting it. For the Geneva meeting, 16 members made a formal request for Taiwan’s participation. The issue was diluted in favour of an investigation into the origin of the virus, where China’s concurrence was critical. But Taiwan’s membership will keep popping up.

How is New Delhi going to tackle Taiwan’s participation and membership? India will be the chairman of the Executive Board of WHO. So, New Delhi will have a bigger voice on the issue. India has supported One China Policy since 1949, although it has maintained cultural, trade and some diplomatic contacts with Taiwan. The Taiwanese leadership expects the current Indian leadership, known for ‘taking bold decisions’, to support it.

With regard to New Delhi endorsing One China policy since 1949, one could disregard that legacy as Pt. Nehru was inexplicably deferential to China. Some of us have argued against Nehru’s pro-China approach including giving away our membership in UNSC, nuclear advantage, Tibet and blind faith in China resulting in unpreparedness for 1962 war and so on. That needs to be reversed.

China is openly hostile to India. As I write this, Beijing is showing belligerence in borders like Ladakh, Doklam and elsewhere. It has disregarded New Delhi’s concerns on its support to Pakistan and activities in POK, a disputed territory, which belongs to India, as the unification of India is incomplete. It makes crazy and highly contentious claims in Indian territories.

There is no plausible reason, no quid pro quo, with China until it gives up its claims and stops haunting and harassing India directly or through her neighbours. India must support Taiwan’s membership of WHO and Tibet’s independence from China. The historic wrongs have to be corrected. New Delhi is in no violation of so-called One China Policy as Taiwan was part of WHO proceedings before, an attendee in WTO and APEC etc. It is time for New Delhi to call the Chinese bluff.

Having said that, countries like the US and the EU who often mortgage democratic values and human rights for trade benefit must support India to stand up to China. They are guilty of propping up the dragon and are at a loss to tame it now. If they stick to political values they preach at home, they can better deal with China. The western dichotomy or even hypocrisies in their foreign policies is at the root of most of the world’s problems. They create the problem, and then try to solve it, Iraq, Afghanistan, China, you name it. Stick to the organising principle. Life will be lost easier.

….INFA

 

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