China says ready to help but India looks elsewhere for oxygen

 China says ready to help but India looks elsewhere for oxygen

NEW DELHI: With India reeling under the Covid-19 pandemic, China said Thursday it stood ready to provide India with necessary support and assistance to get the situation under control.
However, while India is looking to import oxygen from abroad as the union health ministry had said last week, official sources said China was not among the countries India was looking to source oxygen from. India for now has identified potential sources mainly in the Gulf and Singapore.
Describing Covid-19 as a common enemy of all mankind that necessitated international solidarity and mutual assistance, the Chinese foreign ministry said Thursday Beijing had taken note of the recent “grave situation in India with a temporary shortage of anti-epidemic medical supplies”.
India had sourced medical equipment from China last year but mainly through commercial agreements. Both India and China have supplied Covid-19 vaccines to south Asian countries even though countries like Sri Lanka and Nepal started to accept Chinese vaccines only after supplies from India dried up. Faced with a grim domestic situation, India is no longer allowing vaccine export as it was earlier, even though it hasn’t officially banned it.
China was Thursday reported to have convened another meeting with countries in the region including Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for a coordinated response to the pandemic. Apart from these 3 countries, the Maldives has also asked the Indian government to ensure that the Serum Institute of India honours the commercial agreements signed with them for the Covishield vaccine.
In the case of Bangladesh, Dhaka had signed a contract for 30 million doses of the vaccine but, according to the Bangladesh media, Serum has supplied only 7 million doses since January.
India ambassador to Bangladesh Vikram Doraiswami assured Dhaka Thursday that India was working on increasing the availability and supply of vaccines.
Bangladesh too said Thursday that while it was making efforts to procure the remaining vaccines in accordance with the agreement signed with Serum, it was also making an effort to procure vaccines from China and Russia under a commercial agreement or joint production. “Bangladesh’s diplomatic missions in China and Russia are in communication with the governments of those countries as well as the vaccine manufacturing companies there,” said Bangladesh foreign secretary Masud bin Momen.