Indian media show double standards in smearing China on virus origin as govt opposes 'India variant' reference
Published: May 23, 2021 08:27 PM
Health workers perform COVID-19 tests to passengers arriving at the Patna railway station in Patna, India, on May 22, 2021. Photo: Xinhua

Health workers perform COVID-19 tests to passengers arriving at the Patna railway station in Patna, India, on May 22, 2021. Photo: Xinhua

While Indian media outlets reported the latest advisory by its country's government which has told social media companies to remove all content referring to or implying the 'Indian variant' of COVID-19, citing World Health Organization guidelines, some media outlets are still busy with defaming China on the virus origin issue. These are blatant double standards, selfishness and irresponsible behaviors, Chinese observers pointed out. 

China has always opposed stigmatization over virus origin issues and the Indian media should stop their smearing against China while opposing the "Indian variant" term, observers noted.

India Today reported on Saturday that a senior official from India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has advised social media platforms in a letter to purge all content referring to or implying the "Indian variant of COVID-19." 

"In the case of COVID-19, it was never called the Chinese flu, pandemic or Wuhan virus. Much content on social media is referring to B.1.617 as the 'Indian variant' after the WHO classified this strain rightly as a variant of global concern," remarked the official.

Using the consistent scientific name of the virus or its variant does not only avoid stigmatization against a country or region over the virus origin issue but also is beneficial in global cooperation for the fight against the pandemic, Tian Guangqiang, assistant research fellow with the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday. Tian noted that India's advisory should be supported by the public.

However, Indian media outlets including Swarajya and the Times of India are hyping up the theory that the "virus originated from China."

Swarajya published an article on its website and official Twitter account "Swarajyamag" on Thursday, using an illustration featuring a Chinese national flag. Maliciously, the illustration replaces the big star, which is surrounded by other four small red stars on the flag, with the image of the coronavirus. The illustration was widely seen as an implication of the "China virus" accusation.

With India caught up in the crisis and criticisms of the Indian government's response becoming ever more prevalent, the "lab leak" conspiracy theory has attracted a new round of attention in India, ranging from news channels to politicians.

On Thursday, the Times of India published a report titled "Escape from Wuhan: Coronavirus lab leak theory gains traction." 

The double dealers have drawn widespread backlash on Chinese social media. As victims who have suffered from stigmatization over the COVID-19 virus origin, Chinese netizens expressed their support for the Indian government's advisory, saying the move is in line with scientific principles, but they condemned the double standards from Indian media outlets as "despicable."

At a critical moment in fighting the virus, Indian media outlets have apparently aimed at transferring contradictions and shifting the focus away from the authorities' failed policies domestically by slandering China and stirring up nationalism, Tian pointed out.

This shows blatant double standards, and a selfish and irresponsible attitude, said Tian.

It is very contradictory that the country's media has boasted that it is a "great power" but they don't always have the thinking of a big power, Tian said.

In contrast, despite the previous border conflicts between the two sides, China has become a backbone of support as India battles the latest devastating COVID-19 outbreak. With a large production capacity and tight export regulations, the Chinese government has been encouraging its companies to meet India's needs. 

China has showed its responsibility as a major country, Tian said.