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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

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Updated 20 mins ago - Economy & Business

Peloton stock tanks on report of production halt

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Peloton stock fell by as much as 25% on Thursday, following a CNBC report that the connected fitness company will temporarily halt production on its bikes and treadmills.

Why it matters: Peloton is viewed by many as a proxy for consumer behavior in the pandemic era, as its popularity surged when gyms closed and people wanted to exercise at home.

Hope King, author of Closer
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Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.

First look: Senators propose bill to ban corporate PACs

Sens. Jon Ossoff and Mark Kelly. Photos: Chip Somodevilla (left), Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) will soon propose a bill prohibiting for-profit corporations from establishing and managing political action committees, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The introduction of "The Ban Corporate PACs Act" comes amid heightened scrutiny on Capitol Hill regarding money in politics, including efforts to bar companies from influencing political campaigns and federal elections. It would likely face a court challenge and First Amendment concerns.