Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Beijing’s pet project to project its soft power in Central Asia and South Asia, has praised the role of India’s Pharma sector in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. On the lines of China being called the called “factory of the world”, the SCO Secretary-General said India is playing the role of the “Pharmacy of the world” amid the pandemic.
It is true that India is a global leader in generic medicine as Indian manufacturers account for 20 percent of global generic medicine production and 62 percent of vaccine demand, but this compliment is surprise move by China amid intense calls for boycotting China and Chinese goods in India.
“I am sure that highly qualified scientists and medical professionals in India will take an active part in the efforts of the world community to study and research the coronavirus pandemic and develop a vaccine,” said Secretary-General Vladimir Norov, former foreign minister of Uzbekistan, who is known to be close to Beijing.
“India plays the role of the ‘pharmacy of the world’ and in terms of a pandemic it is crucial in a global context,” he added.
SCO is an organization with 8 permanent members as of now. Its predecessor, the Shanghai Five Group, was founded in April 1996 with China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan as its members. Later, Tajikistan joined in 2001, and it was renamed as SCO, with China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan as members. In 2017, India and Pakistan were given permanent member status. The group, headquartered in Beijing, and China is the de facto head of the organization.
The primary aim behind the expansion of the group was to build a counter to the West and NATO, with the most powerful Asian nations as its members. However, as tensions between India and China heat up at the border, the dream of the Asian century as well as the Asian alliance is shattering. The actions of Beijing are pushing India, which has never joined any camps so far, closer to the United States and the West.
A fearful China, whose military as well as economic dominance in Asia is at stake if India joins the west, is now trying to placate India through praise in international organizations like the SCO; as well as through state media propaganda by arguing that de-escalation is in the interest of both countries and India should not join Western “imperialist” forces.
Articles on Global Times show that Beijing is making all efforts to ensure that the matter does not escalate further and Indian does not get closer to the United States.
Global Times published an article titled, ‘Washington feeds off New Delhi’s impulsiveness.’ The writer noted the fact that the US Department of State said that it was “closely monitoring the situation between Indian and Chinese forces along the Line of Actual Control.”
On June 5, when India responded positively to Trump’s call for the expansion of G7 to include India, Global Times published an editorial titled, ‘India plays with fire spicing up G7 expansion’.
Global Times also published an article titled, ‘India should eschew Western views of China for border peace’ on May 25, in which it argued, “Although a handful of Indian media outlets and social organizations echo the Trump administration’s views, the Indian government should keep a sober head to not be used as cannon ash by the US.”
Now, Beijing is trying to ensure that India does not walk out of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Also, Beijing does not want India to up the ante on the border after giving a befitting a reply to the PLA at the Galwan valley. This could be a reason why the Secretary-General heaped praises on India and PM Modi.
“At the last SCO Summit, Modi made a number of proposals to activate key areas of interaction. He noted that there should be a common vision of strengthening healthy cooperation in our region,” he said.
He also said that India’s opposition to Belt and Road Initiative does not pose an existential threat to SCO, as it is a democratic organization. Vladimir Norov’s statement makes it clear that Beijing is making last efforts to keep India in SCO and not escalate matters on border issues.