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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Many Indians are angry at China and the World Health Organization for their perceived mishandling of the coronavirus. The efficiency and transparency of Taiwan's response to the epidemic, in contrast, has made it a topic of renewed sympathy and interest in India.

Why it matters: The coronavirus crisis is showcasing Taiwan's democratic system of governance on an international stage, the biggest soft power win for the country in years.

What's happening: On social media and in articles and TV news shows, Indians are expressing anger at China and praise for Taiwan for their respective responses to the coronavirus.

  • India is currently under a three-week nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.
  • Many Indians blame China for withholding information about the coronavirus until late January and allowing its spread abroad.
  • The World Health Organization followed China's lead and did not make public information that Taiwan had provided to it on Dec. 31 indicating the coronavirus was easily transmissible between humans. China has blocked Taiwan's membership in the WHO.

A cartoon criticizing WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as beholden to China was widely shared among Indians on social media.

  • Indian actor and director Amitabh Bachchan tweeted the image to his 41 million Twitter followers, though he later deleted it.
Image credit: Twitter

What they're saying: "The Taiwanese authorities have come out reasonably well whereas Chinese authorities have come out relatively poorly," said Gautam Bambawale, former Indian ambassador to China, in an interview with Axios.

  • "Indians are very upset with China," said Tanvi Madan, a senior fellow specializing in Indian foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, with "the ways that China has misled people, how it’s trying to use this discussion for propaganda purposes."

China's recent global propaganda blitz has also backfired to some extent.

  • "By highlighting its own apparently successful effort to slow the virus’s spread, and showcasing medical assistance to badly hit countries like Italy and Spain," wrote Sadanand Dhume, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, "Beijing comes across as the geopolitical equivalent of the arsonist who lives in a neighborhood with a well-run fire station."

On March 31, the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi released a statement criticizing Indian news reports that suggested Taiwan should join the WHO.

  • "Any questions about Taiwan's participation in international organizations must be arranged under the One-China principle," said embassy spokesperson Ji Rong, who added that articles suggesting otherwise "seriously violated" the one-China principle.

Background: India's relationship with China is somewhat tense but stable.

  • The two countries have a long-running border dispute in Arunachal Pradesh, in India' far northeast.
  • India granted diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1950, decades before the United States did the same. India and China just celebrated their 70-year anniversary of formal diplomatic ties.
  • India maintains strong economic ties with Taiwan. Although India follows a one-China policy, it stopped publicly affirming the policy in 2010 over discontent with China's support for Pakistan and Kashmir.

What to watch: While Indians themselves are experiencing a surge of anti-China sentiment, New Delhi has avoided actions and statements that might rile Beijing.

  • But the growing popularity of Taiwan could strengthen unofficial ties, said Bambawale.
  • "I think the economic and cultural relationship between India and Taiwan is set to expand."

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”