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China’s Wet Markets Up & Running Again; Is Beijing In Breach Of International Laws? OpEd



What are the wet markets in China that seem to be jeopardizing the global health? While we are witnessing an alarming rise in the cases of COVID-19 worldwide, the suspected epicenter of the pandemic is back on track – the wet market of animals in China.

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Amongst all floating theories revolving around the genesis of COVID 19, the discovery of patient zero from Wuhan, who happens to be a prawn and seafood seller is an indication of China’s lack of determination to judiciously regulate the wet animal markets.

One cannot totally ignore the role of China’s wet market with respect to the ongoing global pandemic. The recent case of an infected tiger from Bronx Zoo startled several countries and their respective zoo authorities. With every day passing by, the world is mutually learning about this virus.

Although several theories and counter theories are all over the news, one must wonder, why the deadly virus emerged from China?

For that, one should also consider referring to its wildlife trade practices. After the scourge of Great Chinese Famine between the years of 1959 and 1961, the entire country shifted its gear to accelerate growth and alleviate poverty.

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The greatest famine took around 45 million human lives. A horrific and misguided food procurement policy was held responsible for the same. The post effects were quite apparent even till the late 1970s when around 30% of the Chinese population was malnourished.

In order to address these issues, the Chinese government adopted several law and policy measures. Peoples Republic of China’s Protection of Wildlife Act 1988 was one of them. The said legislation recognized the rational utilization of wildlife resources. A lot of viruses that make humans sick actually originates from animals.

There are some evidences which suggest that the said category of Coronavirus might have originated from a bat to a pangolin before infecting a human. It takes a long way for a deadly virus of this nature to reach humans.

However, it is a lot easier if a medium is provided for such transmission. That is where the Wet Animal Market of Wuhan comes into play, where live animals were slaughtered and sold for human consumption.

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The cages of several wildlife animals were stacked over one another and the animals which were at the bottom of those stacks were soaked with all kinds of liquids such as pus, excreta and blood flowing from the animals placed right above them.

This is how it was easy for a virus to jump from one animal to another and if human consumes that animal then the virus could potentially infect them as well, leading to an outbreak. The Wuhan Live Animal Market covered a wide range of animals for human consumption, including wildlife animals.

This is due to the decades-old Wildlife Protection Act of 1988. During the late 70s, the then regime decided to give up the absolute control over the regulation of food production and allowed private farming.

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This lead to the emergence of major agricultural companies as well as small farmers engaged in catching and raising wild animals for livelihood. Initially, the farmers and poor peasants started raising turtles in their backyards. In order to meet the need for sustenance and alleviate poverty, the then Chinese government allowed it.

Thereafter the Wildlife Protection Act of 1988 declared wildlife animals as resources of the state. The designation of wildlife as a natural resource had promoted its utilization for human consumption. The given law in-fact went to the extent of encouraging domestication of wild animals.

This gave birth to the wildlife farming industry. Gradually, small scale local farms turned into industry sized large scale operations. The farmers also started raising a wide variety of wildlife species in their respective establishments. This raised the chances of cross-species transmission of the virus.

These animals were furthered funneled into the wet markets like the one in Wuhan province, for profit. Along with this legal wildlife farming industry, a parallel illegal wildlife industry started booming, which in furtherance gave birth to transboundary wildlife trafficking and other related wildlife crimes.

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The first major occurrence was in the early 2000s when the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus took several lives. It was traced back to the wet market of Guangdong province of China. Thereafter, the prohibition was imposed on wildlife farming of civet cats.

However, the ban was lifted soon in a couple of months because the wildlife farming industry was contributing enormously to China’s GDP due to its lobbying capability. Due to this influence, the Chinese government allowed wildlife farming industry to keep flourishing.

In 2016, the government even allowed farming of several endangered species like Pangolin. The industry has been promoting wildlife animal farming by citing several medicinal values such as bodybuilding, immunity and sex enhancement etc.

It is believed that the majority of the Chinese population do not eat wildlife animals but the minority section of the rich and influential population consumes it, putting the interest of the majority population at risk.

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On 24th February 2020, the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress of China adopted a decision to a total prohibition on illegal wildlife trade and the elimination of excessive eating of wildlife animals.

However, the said decision doesn’t absolutely ban the utilization of wildlife for consumption as food. Such measures might not be effective unless the Chinese government amends the Wildlife Protection Law by permanently banning wildlife farming. Else history will keep repeating and we might encounter another novel pandemic in the future.

The recent news of re-emergence of wet markets in China is a matter of grave concern and raised deep apprehensions amongst many legislators and researchers across the globe. In the language of international law, one nation cannot be obstructed to utilize its natural resources within its national sovereignty.

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However, the same right to permanent sovereignty over natural resources also imposes a correlative duty to not cause damage to neighboring countries and this is a customary international law principle, not only recognized by the International Court of Justice but also widely accepted by countries across the globe. Now only time will tell if any global pressure will ever force China to reconsider its stance on wildlife trade.

Chiradeep Basak is an Assistant Professor of Law at the National Law University and Judicial Academy- India. 


Asia Pacific

Chinese Ambassador ‘Honey-Trapped’ Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli – Indian Reports

On Thursday, displeased with Indian reports, Nepal government spokesman Yubaraj Khatiwada announced that some Indian media outlets made baseless and shameful allegations against PM Oli and  Kathmandu will take legal and political action against the Indian media.



Nepal recently banned all India media channel except Doordarshan over what experts called ‘fictitious claims and concerted stories’ aimed to derail Nepal-China ties and see the ouster of PM KP Sharma Oli.

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The Indian media is taking a keen interest in the ongoing uprising within Nepal Communist Party against PM KP Sharma Oli. The way in which the entire matter has been covered in the Indian media, there is a massive outrage within the ruling communist part of Nepal.

A story was run on a Hindi news channel in India about China’s Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi and PM KP Sharma Oli hinting at ‘honey-trapping’ attempts by Beijing. Nepal’s government says that sensational claims that were made about a foreign diplomat and PM Oli has no connection with the reality.

On Thursday, displeased with Indian reports, Nepal government spokesman Yubaraj Khatiwada announced that some Indian media outlets made baseless and shameful allegations against PM Oli and  Kathmandu will take legal and political action against the Indian media.

He said, “The government has every right to take action against the Indian media who are trying to hurt Nepal’s image, national sovereignty and the dignity of Nepalis.” We have asked to stop such broadcasting. ”

The ruling party, PM Oli’s advisor and the Federation of Nepalese Journalists have also expressed concern about this. The Nepalese government said that its embassy in New Delhi has raised strong objections to unruly coverage in India’s print and electronic media.


Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou YankeeChinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi


Nepal’s Ambassador to New Delhi Nilambar Acharya told the Kathmandu Post that some media houses of India are determined to derail the Nepal-India ties. Acharya said that such report is sad and objectionable.

Surya Thapa, the press advisor to Prime Minister Oli, said that the PM himself has taken notice on this matter. Thapa also said that the cable operators will stop broadcasting the Indian news channel as their responsibility towards the country. Nepal TV Association has confirmed that some Indian news channels have been banned.

According to Article 9 of Nepal’s National Broadcasting Rules 1995, the government can ban such broadcasts which hurts the security, peace, dignity and morality of Nepal.

In this interview, the anchor asked Upendra Yadav – the former deputy prime minister of Nepal that PM Oli is being accused of being ‘Honey Trapped’. Do you agree with this? On this, Yadav said that this cannot be denied and it needs to be analyzed. However, later Upendra Yadav told Nepali media that his interview could have tampered.

However, questions were also raised in Nepal about why the Chinese ambassador is taking so much interest in Nepal’s domestic politics? According to Nepali media, this interview of Upendra Yadav was aired when the Chinese Ambassador was meeting several leaders of the ruling party and PM Oli.

The Kathmandu Post commented on this matter and wrote  –  Ever since Nepal updated its political map, new stories are being created in the Indian media about ties between PM Oli and China. Every day new propaganda appears in the Indian media. Journalists sitting in Delhi and Mumbai tell the date and time of Oli’s resignation. Some people have even started demanding his resignation. Oli has become a means of collecting TRPs for the Indian media. ”

Former Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal – Kamal Thapa tweeted a cartoon of Times of India and wrote – We have serious differences with PM Oil on many issues, including his conduct of international relations. But deliberate/sustained campaign of mudslinging against PM Oli by some Indian media cannot be acceptable. That doesn’t do Nepal-India relations any good.

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Asia Pacific

COVID-19: WHO experts in China to probe origins of Coronavirus



Two World Health Organization (WHO) experts are travelling to China to talk to scientists to investigate the transmission of COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic from animals to humans, WHO chief said on Friday.

Addressing a webinar, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the global health experts will also prepare a scientific plan with their Chinese counterparts to identify the zoonotic source of the COVID-19 virus.

“As we continue to tackle the pandemic, we are also looking into the origins of the virus,” he said.

Adhanom said the scientists want to learn about the progress made in understanding the animal reservoir for COVID-19 and how the disease jumped between animals and humans.

“This will help lay the groundwork for the WHO-led international mission into finding the origins,” he said.

The team comprising an epidemiologist and an animal health specialist are flying to China to try and identify the pandemic’s animal source, WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said a UN press conference in Geneva.

Harris said the aim is also to examine from which species of animal the virus originated and then transmitted to humans.

On April 20, WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib had said that so far, all available evidence suggests the virus has an animal origin, and it was not manipulated or manufactured in a lab, or somewhere else. She was responding to allegations that the virus spread from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

“It most probably has its ecological reservoir in bats, but how the virus came from bats to humans is still to be discovered,” she said.

Missing intermediary host

“There was certainly an intermediary host or another animal that transmitted this virus from bats to this other animal, to humans, “she said.

Adhanom told international diplomats on Thursday that the member states at the 73rd World Health Assembly held in May had adopted a landmark resolution urging the WHO to initiate an independent and comprehensive evaluation of the lessons learned from the international health response to COVID-19.

“This is a time for self-reflection, to look at the world we live in and to find ways to strengthen our collaboration as we work together to save lives and bring this pandemic under control,” said the chief of WHO.

“The magnitude of this pandemic, which has touched virtually everyone in the world, clearly deserves a commensurate evaluation,” he said.

The WHO had waited for seven months to investigate the source of the virus and this has led to criticism of the organization and American officials accused Adhanom of being too lenient to China.

An earlier WHO mission led by a Canadian doctor Bruse Aylward that went to China in February was criticized in the US for praising China’s in its fight against COVID-19.

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Asia Pacific

Indian Rafale Jets Would Have Been Useless Against Chinese Airforce – Russia Experts



Rafale jets would have been useless against the Chinese Airforce (PLAAF) – Russian aviation experts have claimed. Rafale fighter jets belong to the 4 ++ generation would not have been of much use had an aerial conflict broken out in Ladakh again the PLAAF.

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As reported by EurAsian Times, India and China had been engaged in a brutal conflict in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. Troops of both countries have exchanged blows and even lost soldiers in the conflict that began more than a month ago.

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Keeping in mind the situation in Ladakh, France said that it would accelerate the delivery of Rafale fighter jets to India. Aviation experts believe that the arrival of Rafale fighter jets will significantly boost the combat capability of the Indian Air Force (IAF). However, according to Russian experts, who did not wish to be named, the French fighter would not help India much incase the conflict turns hot.

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The astronomical cost of Rafale fighter jets is one of the reasons the French 4++ fighter jet would not help India. In the deal struck with Paris, New Delhi agreed to purchase 36 Rafale Jets. The total cost of the deal was an estimated Rs 59,000 crore with each jet costing around Rs 1,646 crore.

The cost of a Rafale is about three times higher than the Chinese J-20 stealth fighter jets. In other words, for 36 French-made Rafale fighters that will appear in the Indian Air Force, China can respond with three times as many of its fifth-generation J-20 fighters – for the same money.

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Even if, in some ways, the characteristics of the Chinese combat aircraft lag behind the French 4 ++ fighter jet, then the Indian air force could get overwhelmed by what is called “capable of crushing by quantity”.

And the cost is not the only reason why Rafale jets would not help India much. Compared to another Chinese jet – J-16 (an analogue of the Russian Su-35) which Beijing is also using in its airforce, the Rafale jets will find it extremely challenging to outgun the Russian Su-35s operated by the Chinese.

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The maximum speed of the Rafale jet is about Mach 1.8 and the J-16 is Mach 2.2. The Rafale’s practical ceiling is also lower than the J-16s. Even in engine thrust, the Chinese J-16s aka Russian Su-35s are far superior to the French combat aircraft.

Even if the IAF was to deploy all 36 of its newly acquired jets, the technical superiority would still be on the side of China, claims the Russian expert.

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The IAF has been on high alert in Ladakh and is closely monitoring all Chinese activity near the Line of Control.  As reported by EurAsian Times, New Delhi has inked a deal with Moscow to buy 33 new fighter aircraft including 12 Su-30MKIs and 21 MiG-29s along with up-gradation of 59 MiG-29s. The addition and up-gradation of jets have been approved to strengthen India’s air power.

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The air defence systems of both the Indian Army and the IAF have been deployed in Ladakh to prevent any misadventure by the Chinese Air Force fighter jets or the People’s Liberation Army choppers there.

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