Soon after, Russia’s vaccine diplomacy seeds in South America emerged.
Soon after Moscow sold 5.2 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Bolivian President Luis Arce in late January. The topic of discussion involved the construction of nuclear power plants. Lithium mining and natural gas reserves, etc.
In North Africa, Algeria did not pay a dime for the Chinese vaccine that arrived in March. The service it provides is to support Beijing’s “core interests” and oppose interference in its “internal affairs.” China has used this language to resist criticism of Hong Kong’s autonomy and Xinjiang’s denial of allegations of human rights violations.
Although China and Russia deny this, experts say they are beginning to see how Beijing and Moscow̵
According to former US ambassadors and other former diplomats, this development should cause serious concern to the US and other democracies.
What annoys these observers is not that China and Russia have won vaccine diplomacy, but that the United States and other countries have not yet participated. Instead, Washington and its allies chose to prioritize their own population, leaving most of the dose at home and causing dissatisfaction abroad.
Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon (Thomas Shannon) said: “Until recently, the United States was the country where any major health disasters have occurred.” “So, exiting the playing field is very disturbing.”
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Shannon served in the administrations of President George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, and served as Brazil’s ambassador from 2010 to 2013. He said that Trump’s decision to withdraw from the international Covid-19 summit sent a “worrisome and worrisome message” to many countries at a very fragile moment. “
He said that unless this change happens under the leadership of President Joe Biden or even in the future, “the world will realize that we are not a reliable partner and this will be dangerous for us.” “I believe this will be remembered.”
Few people would argue that sending life-saving vaccines to all parts of the world is a bad thing.
John Campbell, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria from 2004 to 2007, said: “We are not talking about arms sales here. We are talking about things that citizens all over the world want and desperately need.”
Indeed, both countries refused to export vaccines for diplomatic benefit.
The spokesperson of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Guo Weimin, said at the annual meeting last month that the idea was “extremely narrow.” President Xi Jinping vowed to make vaccines a “global public interest”.
Similarly, the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russia only believes that “as many vaccines as possible should be vaccinated” so that “all countries, including the poorest countries, have the opportunity to stop this. Pandemic”.
After a series of doubts, recent studies have shown that the state-owned vaccine, China’s Sinopharm and Russia’s Sputnik V program are as effective as other vaccines. They have been approved by dozens of regulatory agencies.
Airfinity, a London-based drug analysis company, said that of the nearly 250 million vaccine doses it has produced so far, China has sent 118 million vaccine doses to 49 countries/regions.
According to Airfinity, Russia has sent vaccines to 22 different countries/regions, and India has exported or donated 64 million of the nearly 150 million injections. Some experts interpret this as New Delhi’s attempt to balance the region’s competitors. Vaccine Diplomacy Program, Beijing.
In contrast, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States only provided more than 200 million doses of vaccine to its population. It has agreed to share only a handful of photos with Mexico and Canada, and in any case it has never used about 4 million AstraZeneca-Oxford University photos.
Westerners’ own nationalism of vaccines has created a vacuum, and low- and middle-income countries have no access to vaccinations. Beijing and Moscow have always been happy to intervene.
Agathe Demarais, the global forecasting director of the Intelligence Department of the London research institute “The Economist”, said that most of the vaccine doses in China and Russia have been “in Western countries and Russia and China have been competing for more Places of great influence”.
Egypt is a key battlefield. Egypt receives US$1.3 billion in aid from the United States every year, but its human rights situation has led to tensions with the West. It has ordered tens of millions of doses from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and Russia’s Sputnik V program. But it was the Chinese who arrived in Cairo the earliest in January.
Former African ambassador Campbell said: “For street men in African countries that use vaccines, Russia and China have become more attractive on the way forward.” “It can be said that it will help increase the attractiveness of authoritarian government at the cost of increasing democratic forms of government.”
Shannon said the pandemic has also allowed Russia to establish relations in Latin America outside of Venezuela’s traditional stronghold, and Demarais said that the appeal between the Russian and Bolivian presidents is clearly related to their vaccine deal. The President of Bolivia did not respond to a request for comment.
In Eastern Europe, the use of Chinese and Russian shooting can cause Serbia and Hungary to soar when neighboring countries suffer from Western supply shortages.
Sharing vaccines is by no means the only way for Moscow and Beijing to try to expand their influence. For example, compared with the scale of Russia’s arms sales or China’s “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure plan, its scale pales in comparison.
DeMarais, a former French diplomat who worked in Moscow and the Middle East, said that on the contrary, vaccine diplomacy is “another brick in the edifice” that they have tried to gain influence and challenge the post-war order in the global South for decades.
She said: “The pandemic did not create any new trends. It just accelerated the continuous transformation.” “The division of the global world order has been happening for a long time.”
At the same time, China has two advantages that Western countries do not have. After the outbreak is quickly contained, the urgency of keeping the vaccine at home has decreased. One-party countries need not worry about voters’ dissatisfaction.
Demarais said: “Biden said, “Dear Americans, I will ship millions of vaccines to South America or Africa, just because we need to compete with Russia and China. This will be political suicide.”
Beijing and Moscow have also perfected the art of vaccine public relations.
Richard Olson, the former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, said: “The Chinese are very good at acting quickly and making symbolic donations, and they have received a lot of media coverage for this.”
‘We lost the game’
Now, the United States seems to be trying to change the international landscape.
Trump has shown little interest in global vaccine work, but Biden has changed the tone. He donated US$4 billion to the vaccine sharing program COVAX and urged allies to distribute its surplus to poorer countries.
The United States, India, Japan and Australia have recently launched a counterattack and plan to donate 1 billion doses of vaccine by 2023.
When asked about vaccine diplomacy at a briefing last month, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter refused to discuss China and said: “The United States has played a leading role in defeating this global epidemic. .”
But many people worry that it will be too late.
Biden’s focus is still on the domestic. He bought hundreds of millions of bullets for American weapons and hopes to donate to developing countries only after vaccinating every American adult.
Dimarais said: “If I am still sent to the embassy, it means that we need to participate in the game here.” “But I also want to say that I think we lost the game.”