Pakistani, Cambodian armies among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines from PLA
Published: Feb 07, 2021 04:19 PM

A staff member shows the refrigerators reserved for COVID-19 vaccines at a local hospital on the outskirts of Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, Feb. 1, 2021. A batch of China-donated COVID-19 vaccines has been officially handed over to Pakistan on Monday at Noor Khan Air Base near the country's capital Islamabad. (Xinhua/Ahmad Kamal)

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) handed over batches of COVID-19 vaccines to the Pakistani and Cambodian militaries on Sunday, making the two the first foreign armies to receive vaccines provided by the Chinese military.

To realize China's pledges of making the COVID-19 vaccine as global public goods, and under the request of the Pakistani army, the PLA had offered it a batch of COVID-19 vaccines, said the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, noting the Chinese PLA will continue to make contributions to building a global community of health for all.

Also on Sunday, the PLA handed over a batch of COVID-19 vaccines to the Cambodian army, upon the request from the latter.   

The Global Times learned that the vaccines offered to those two countries were produced by Chinese pharmaceutical Sinopharm.

The Cambodian Ministry of Health authorized the emergency use of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, saying that "the vaccine is used safely in China and other countries."

The vaccines will be provided free-of-charge to people who are at a high risk of infection such as medics, teachers, bodyguards, armed forces, tuk-tuk and taxi drivers, and garbage collectors, among others, Xinhua reported Sunday. 

Offering vaccines to the Pakistani and Cambodian militaries, upon their requests, reflects the deep and solid ties between China and those two countries, said Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, noting that it also reflects their high level of mutual trust.

He said that China first donated vaccines to governments of many developing countries because the public is in more urgent need of vaccines than the military. "Also because the strict management mode within the military, there are far less people infected in the military than among the public," Li noted.

It is possible that the PLA will continue offering vaccines to more foreign militaries to help their battle against the pandemic, which demonstrates China's efforts to assist the world to fight the virus in various fields across a wide range, according to Li. 

Zhou Bo, former director of the Security Cooperation Center of the Office for International Military Cooperation at China's Ministry of National Defense, told the Global Times on Sunday that exchanges between militaries are closely linked with their countries' diplomatic relations.

The same reason determinates that it is impossible for Chinese and US militaries to conduct such cooperation amid the pandemic, Zhou remarked. 

Last week, the first batch of 500,000 China-assisted COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Pakistan, 10 days after Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi promised Pakistan that China would assist Pakistan with vaccines and accelerate vaccines exports to the country.

In addition to Pakistan, China has provided vaccine assistance to 13 developing countries, including Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. It also plans to offer assistance to 38 more developing countries, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at the routine press conference on February 1.