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China’s U-turn: A day after suspending cargo flights to India, Chinese airlines to ‘discuss’ new plan to resume services

China's decision to suspend the cargo flights was especially shocking as the country has time and again expressed its willingness to assist India to fight the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

China’s state-run Sichuan Airlines has on Tuesday stated that it is withdrawing its decision to suspend cargo flights taking crucial medical supplies like oxygen concentrators to India. While announcing the decision, China said that it was working out a new plan to resume the services.

“We are re-evaluating the original plan of suspending cargo services to India, and actively discussing a new plan to guarantee cargo services to the region,” a report by the state-run Global Times quoted the airlines as saying.

China’s decision is being seen as a complete 180 degree turn from its previous decision to suspend all-cargo flights to India for 15 days because of the surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.

In a letter to its agents on Monday, Sichuan Airlines’s Logistics arm had announced that the company has suspended cargo flights from China in six routes, amid hectic efforts from India to source oxygen concentrators and other medical supplies.

According to a report in The Hindu, China’s U-turn came after Indian media criticised Sichuan Airlines’ move to suspended all its cargo flights to India for 15 days, and said that such a move brings “major disruption” to private traders’ efforts to buy medical supplies, including oxygen concentrators, from China.

In a statement, the state-run airlines had said the reason why it suspended cargo flights to India was the recent sudden change in Covid-19 cases in the country.

Speaking on this sudden suspension, Siddharth Sinha of Sino Global Logistics, a Shanghai-based freight forwarding company said that the suspension of the flights owing to the coronavirus situation in India is surprising as there is no crew change in India and the same crew flies the aircraft back.

He said that China’s decision to suspend the cargo flights was especially shocking as the country has time and again expressed its willingness to assist India to fight the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

China had recently offered support to India

It becomes imperative to remember here how on April 23, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian had told a media briefing that China is in communication with India to provide necessary support and assistance. “China expresses sincere sympathies to India over the deteriorating situation in the country recently,” he said.

“The Chinese government and people firmly support the Indian government and people in fighting the coronavirus. China is ready to provide support and help according to India’s need, and is in communication with the Indian side on this”, he added.

India is currently struggling with a second wave of the pandemic with more than 3,00,000 daily new coronavirus cases being reported in the past few days, and hospitals are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds.

Global allies come together to help India fight the Coronavirus pandemic

Amidst China’s flipflops, it was reported how India’s global allies have extended support to India to tide over the second wave of the pandemic.

In a press release on Monday (April 26), the Indian Embassy in Thimphu informed that an oxygen plant in Eastern Bhutan will supply liquid oxygen to India. 

On Saturday (April 24), the Singapore embassy in India informed that 4 cryogenic oxygen containers were transported to India from Changi airport in Singapore via an Indian Air Force (IAF) carrier. In a tweet, the German embassy in India informed that Germany will supply 24 oxygen transport tanks to India.

Similarly, French President Emmanuel Macron has said that France stood by the Indian people amidst the resurgence of Coronavirus cases in the country.

After massive criticism and NSA-level talks, the USA had also decided to lift the export ban over vaccine raw material and send raw material needed for Covid-19 vaccines being manufactured in India. It will also send medical equipment and protective gear to support India amidst a massive surge in Covid-19 infections.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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