In the race to vaccinate the world against the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, India is leading the way much to the chagrin of China as its attempts at coaxing countries to take the Chinese vaccine for Covid-19 are falling flat. Now, the Chinese Communist Party’s official propaganda outlet, Global Times appears to have accepted that China has lost the vaccine war to India.
In its article titled, “India faces challenges in supplying vaccines to the world: Experts,” Global Times insinuates that India is giving vaccines to its neighbourhood because it fears that China will do it and expand its diplomatic clout. However, this is just China’s way to explain its failures at vaccine diplomacy. The reality is that China’s vaccine is being soundly rejected, or accepted reluctantly even by its client states like Pakistan and Cambodia. China has put a lot of countries on its priority list promising them vaccines however, so far, it’s been a massive fail especially at a time when India’s grants have won hearts.
Global Times, while noting that India is supplying vaccines to its neighbourhood countries as grants and gifts, states that, “India has certain ability in vaccine development and production. India’s vaccines – either independently developed or manufactured as an agency – have occupied a certain portion of the international market and formed some of their own channels.”
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While Global Times tries to spin India’s vaccine diplomacy as done out of fear of China increasing its clout, the propaganda outlet in a way is accepting defeat. “India regards Bhutan as its sphere of influence which India has always wanted to take it under its wing and is afraid that Bhutan could import vaccines from other countries such as China. Indian sends vaccines to Bhutan to demonstrate the two sides’ special connections despite a domestic shortage,” said Tian Guangqiang, an assistant research fellow with the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences while speaking to Global Times.
Such is the quality of the Chinese vaccines that, a Chinese vaccine approved for local use had only 79.3 per cent efficacy with even the World Health Organisation who worked for hand in glove with Chinese President Xi Jinping to unleash the pandemic on the world, has approved only five Chinese vaccines for export compared to 47 vaccines from India.
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In what has become a norm in global diplomacy, anything that China gives comes with a steep price with Southeast Asian countries increasingly getting irritated with the political conditions attached to the export of Chinese vaccines. Additionally, China’s decision to inoculate more than 1 million of its own citizens with Sinopharm doses without even completing full trials is a testament to how China cares little about the welfare of its own people, let alone citizens of other countries.
China has been resoundingly defeated by India when it comes to vaccine diplomacy and the latter characteristically has taken to Global Times to spin the developments as India’s fear of China.