China set to share vaccines with African countries, despite Western vilification
Published: Mar 08, 2021 06:58 PM
Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday reiterated China's opposition to "vaccine nationalism" and re-emphasized China's commitment to maintain equitable vaccine distribution in the world, saying China rejects any "vaccine divide."

Wang's remarks at the high-level briefing about China's foreign policies held alongside the annual Two Sessions meeting are deemed as a strong response to Western countries' slinging "vaccine diplomacy" onto China, and their neglects of less developed countries' demands of vaccines amid a global supply shortage.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused global economic halt, financial market turmoil, and is highly likely to cause a global economic contraction. Against such backdrop, unilateralism and protectionism are both surging among a few Western countries. 

The coronavirus pandemic has intensified the challenges faced by the less developed countries and regions. As vaccines and other urgently needed development materials have not received any response from the development assistance system dominated by the developed countries, some poor African countries have to search for other options.

The scarcity of the coronavirus vaccine has caused developed Western countries to tear off the moral fig leaf, exposing their "radius of influence" during the distribution process. As global governance is turning to a power-playing game, a vast majority of developing countries and less developed countries have now a deeper understanding of the significance of South-South Cooperation. The inequality between North-South has obviously triggered a trust crisis.

South-South Cooperation is subjected to higher expectations by the majority of developing economies and less developed countries and regions. The President of Seychelles has taken vaccine produced by China National Pharmaceutical Group, and Guinea vaccinated the Sputnik V vaccine produced by Russia. Kenya is also interested in using Chinese vaccines. 

China is reaching out to help more than 30 African countries fight the pandemic and bring their economic back on normal track as the top priority for China-Africa cooperation. In 2020, China provided about 120 batches of emergency medical supplies to Africa and sent medical experts teams to 15 African countries. China has started to provide COVID vaccines to 35 African countries and the African Union. 

However, Western countries are again repeating to play their old tricks, badmouthing the China-Africa development partnership and labeling the public product vaccine with "vaccine nationalism".

In considering their own interests, a few Western developed countries have tried to politicize China-Africa cooperation to fight the pandemic. The countries deem the less developed countries in Africa as their area of sphere of influence, making ill-intentioned vilification of China-Africa friendly cooperation. 

Western countries accuse China of so-called undertaking so-called "vaccine diplomacy", using Chinese vaccines to control African countries. Such politically-driven badmouthing is clearly absurd as all mankind is facing the same enemy, and they should unite to defeat the plague.

In response to questions related to China-Africa cooperation at the wide-ranging, two-hour news conference on Sunday, Wang noted that China will continue to support African countries' fight against the pandemic and their efforts to strengthen public health governance and accelerate industrialization on their lands. 

Chinese vaccines are the public products meeting many less developed countries' actual needs. China's commitment to giving a helping hand to Africa will surely promote the economic recovery and industrial development in those less developed countries in Africa and other regions.

The author is an associate research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce.