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Covid-19: China stokes tensions between the United States and India over Biden’s slow coronavirus aid | India News

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NEW DELHI: While the United States is slow to offer aid to India to combat the world’s worst virus crisis, China is moving to drive a wedge between democratic security partners.
In a barrage of editorials, political cartoons and social media posts in recent days, the Communist Party-backed Global Times newspaper criticized the United States for not providing aid and called on India to improve ties with Beijing. Highlighting the desperate situation in Delhi, where hospitals and crematoria are overwhelmed, he suggested that India cannot trust the United States.
“This pandemic shows that the West is getting closer to India is more in a geopolitical sense,” said the Global Times, which serves as a key platform for China to send messages to the world, in an editorial over the weekend. “Its closeness is fragile and superficial.”
China’s comments, along with the severity of the crisis in India, show how the imbalance in vaccines between the richest and poorest nations has the potential to reshape geopolitics as parts of the world begin to reopen. Washington and New Delhi have strengthened ties over the past year amid a border clash in the Himalayas and India’s efforts to attract companies looking to diversify outside of China.
On Sunday, President Joe Biden met with growing calls in India for assistance, and his administration promised raw materials for vaccination and financing to boost the production of Covid-19 injections. “Just as India sent aid to the United States because our hospitals were overloaded at the beginning of the pandemic, we are determined to help India in its time of need,” Biden said in a tweet.
While India welcomed the move, the US action was still considered too late for an administration that has sought to elevate the Quad security association that also includes Japan and Australia. On April 16, the director of the India-based Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, had pleaded with Biden to send supplies to India.
“The delay in America’s response to the unfolding humanitarian crisis in India is regrettable,” said Aparna Pande, director of the Initiative on the Future of India and South Asia at the Washington-based Hudson Institute. “What these incidents ended up doing is reinforcing the argument within India that strategic autonomy is the way forward, not further alignment with the US.”
The Biden administration has emphasized strong ties with India as part of its plans to strengthen security ties with allies and strategic partners in a bid to counter China. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been criticized for his handling of the virus, has brought the traditionally nonaligned country closer to the United States since he took power in 2014.
The material needed to produce Covishield, the Indian-made Oxford-AstraZeneca Plc vaccine, “will be available immediately” and the United States will finance an expansion of the production capacity of the Indian vaccine maker Biological E Ltd, or BioE, according to a statement. Ventilators, therapeutic products, rapid test kits and personal protective equipment will also be shipped.
Earlier, Biden’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said the administration will consider shipping stored doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to India. The company has not applied for regulatory approval for its two-dose vaccine in the US, which has three other vaccines licensed to implement. Biden in March had ordered nearly enough Covid-19 vaccines to fully inoculate every American adult twice.
AstraZeneca’s American stock of vaccines reached more than 20 million doses earlier this month and has grown since then, prompting persistent calls from doctors and others to donate the vaccines to other countries that lag far behind the US. In its vaccination efforts. That gained urgency with the worsening crisis in India.
Beyond criticizing the Biden administration, China has also offered aid to India. The country’s embassy in Sri Lanka said it shipped 800 oxygen concentrators on Sunday and would ship 10,000 more in a week.
While Biden’s slow response could have been better, the United States still has time to save its reputation, according to Aman Thakker, an associate fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“In the long term, it remains in the national interest of both the United States and India that both countries continue to partner with each other,” he said. “Both countries have invested time and effort over 20 years to build ties and trust, and the strategic imperatives that led both countries to invest that time and effort over 20 years will continue to persist.”

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