India on Sunday responded to China’s concerns about restrictions on the export of medical supplies needed to combat the Coronavirus outbreak by saying a one-time exemption had been granted.
The spokesperson of the Chinese embassy, Ji Rong, had pointed to complaints from Chinese medical institutions, charity organisations and local authorities that India had prohibited the export of medical products they had purchased and said India should handle “China’s much-needed items in a cooperative and constructive way”.
Ji pointed out the World Health Organisation (WHO) has “repeatedly not recommended (or) even opposed any travel and trade restrictions. She said China hoped “the Indian side could review the epidemic situation in an objective, rational and calm manner” and “resume normal personnel exchanges and trade between our two countries as soon as possible”.
Soon after, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the precautions taken by India were in accordance with WHO’s advisory about the Coronavirus outbreak.
“Some restrictions have been imposed on the export of certain medical equipment in view of the fact that these items are in short supply here too. Just like any other country, India with a billion-plus population has the responsibility to take necessary measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, which if not properly managed can become a global risk,” he said.
Kumar added, “However, responding to the needs of our Chinese friends, the government had allowed a one-time exemption for the export of some items which had been restricted for export.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had written to President Xi Jinping and offered assistance, and as a humanitarian gesture, a gift reflecting the solidarity of the people of India with the people of China was to be delivered to Wuhan by a special flight, he said.
“We have called upon the Chinese authorities to allow Indian citizens and those of our neighbouring countries to return by the same flight. We hope that they will give it positive consideration,” Kumar said.
The Indian side had on Saturday accused the Chinese side of deliberately delaying clearance for the third flight to Wuhan, at the epicentre of the outbreak, to deliver medical supplies and to bring back some 100 Indian nationals.
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