held a news conference late last year to demand an apology from China after Zhao Lijian, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, posted a doctored image on Twitter that depicted an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child.

India and China also exchanged bitter criticisms last year after their troops fought on a disputed border, leading to deaths of soldiers on both sides. But Mr. Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India quickly doused those tensions, and last week, Mr. Xi expressed condolences over India’s latest outbreak. China has recently offered to send medical support, including speeding up orders of oxygen equipment.

“wolf warrior” diplomats.

India’s image as a poorer, unruly country was sometimes used in China to “defend a more centralized and authoritarian rule,” he wrote by email. He added, “Many Chinese believe that India has joined the West to counter China’s rise in recent years.”

Under normal circumstances, the Chinese social media post would have provoked public anger in India. But many Indians are preoccupied with the crisis, said Madhurima Nundy, assistant director of the Institute of Chinese Studies in Delhi who is an expert on public health.

“There is too much happening now in India which is distressing, so the primary anger is directed towards the government” in Delhi, Dr. Nundy said. “The anger and distrust that emerged last year against China, because of Covid and compounded by border tensions, has dissipated in light of the present crisis.”

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