In response to a story carried out by Associated Press about China forcing Ukraine to accede to its demands by threatening it to withhold its COVID-19 shipment, Beijing on Saturday said it provides vaccines to other countries with no conditions attached.
While China did not specifically mention AP’s report on coercion against Ukraine, the statement issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry said: “China’s provision of vaccines and anti-epidemic materials to other countries is not meant to gain benefits from other countries and there isn’t any geopolitical purpose nor any political conditions attached.”
Nevertheless, the statement was issued after a report alleged that Ukraine had withdrawn its name from a multi-country statement on human rights abuse in China’s Xinjiang region after Beijing allegedly threatened it to stop a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines. The report had said that China warned Ukraine that it would block a planned shipment of at least 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines if it did not withdraw its name from the multi-country statement condemning the human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.
China uses vaccine distribution to coerce countries into accepting its propaganda
While China claims it does not leverage its COVID-19 vaccines for diplomatic purposes, it is a far cry from what nations across the world have asserted. Several countries that have sought Chinese vaccines to inoculate their population against coronavirus, a virus that has spawned an unprecedented pandemic and has its roots in China, have alleged that Beijing has been exploiting its advantageous position of being one of the biggest manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines to hustle them into furthering its global propaganda.
Earlier in March 2021, China imposed a strange demand to Indian workers who wished to travel to China for work purposes. China asked them to get jabbed with a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine if they wanted visa permit to travel to the country. A report by the Indian Express citing notice posted at the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi states that for resumption in people-to-people exchange, holding a vaccine certificate for Chinese vaccine is needed.
For some time now, China has been eyeing to use Nepal as its vassal state, a country that could be used to undercut India’s rising regional dominance. However, it was patently unhappy with Nepal after the Nepalese media revealed the details of Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine deal. Chinese authorities reportedly expressed their disappointment with Nepalese officials for failing to keep the vaccine deal ‘secret’.
It was earlier reported in detail about the deadlock Nepal had reached in procuring the vaccines after China had insisted on the Himalayan nation signing a non-disclosure agreement before availing the Sinopharm vaccines.
Under such a non-disclosure agreement, it was agreed that China would provide four million doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine to Nepal. China had strictly insisted that Nepal keep the details, including the price and delivery date, under wraps. However, a few Nepal media outlets published information regarding the vaccine deal between the two countries. This had drawn the ire of Chinese officials, who conveyed their anger to their Nepalese counterparts over the details of the deal being made public.
China has also been accused of using its vaccines to push its agenda in Latin America. With exports from India curtailed due to the devastating second wave of coronavirus outbreak and the United States showing no interest in taking the lead to vaccinate its neighbours in Latin and Southern America, China viewed it an opportune moment to flex its muscles in the region and pressurise countries to accept its propaganda against Taiwan and Uyghur Muslims.
In lieu of vaccines, China was reportedly asking countries in Latin America to snap their diplomatic ties with Taiwan, an island nation that Beijing says is a part of China. The Chinese Communist Party(CCP) also wanted the countries to loosen their stand against China on the human rights violations committed by it in the restive province of Xinjiang.
Taiwan, on the other hand, had accused China of using the COVID-19 vaccines to seek its ulterior goal of annexing the country. It also accused China of using its position to prevent Taiwan from getting access to vaccine internationally. The party governing the island nation said China was using the vaccines as a political bargaining chip to prevent Taiwan from obtaining vaccines from across the world.
China exploits the desperation of coronavirus-ravaged countries to force them into acquiescence
China claims that it has no strings attached to its vaccine diplomacy, but the reality is in stark contrast to what Beijing would have us believe. After ravaging the world with the coronavirus, which in all likelihood was synthetically developed at the Wuhan Institute of Virology with the help of some US scientists, China is unabashedly using the surplus of vaccines to strong-arm desperate countries across the world to toe its agenda.
Although Chinese-made vaccines have been alleged to be woefully ineffective, in the absence of credible alternatives, nations staggering under the shadow of the relentless COVID-19 outbreak have little option than to acquiesce to China’s demands and procure vaccines made by them. After bequeathing the world with an intractable contagion, China is pulling off dirty tricks to coerce nations into accepting its global propaganda.