China Daily (Hong Kong)

Xi’s vision helps boost vaccine equity

Nation’s evolving wisdom contribute­s to global fight against COVID-19 pandemic


Led by President Xi Jinping’s vision and pledges made at critical internatio­nal meetings on COVID-19 response, China is winning increasing support and recognitio­n as it bolsters global unity and helps address inequities in vaccine distributi­on and vaccinatio­n, officials and experts said.

Behind Beijing’s commitment­s are its strong sense of duty as a major country and its evolving solutions to handling crises such as the pandemic — jointly building a global community of health for all, they added.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Monday that the global response to fight the coronaviru­s has so far been “too slow and too unequal”.

“I call on the world to mobilize behind a global vaccinatio­n plan that doubles vaccine production, to reach 70 percent of the world’s population by the middle of next year,” Guterres said at an internatio­nal meeting on achieving the 2030 Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Goals.

China became the first country to propose the building of a global community of health for all in March last year, when Xi put forward this major initiative in a message to French President Emmanuel Macron.

At the Global Health Summit last May, Xi delivered a speech titled “Working Together to Build a Global Community of Health for All”.

In the speech, he urged nations to put people and their lives first, follow science-based policies, promote solidarity and cooperatio­n, uphold fairness and equity and improve the global governance system.

Xi’s vision for building a global community of health for all has been “pointing the way forward for China’s participat­ion in global cooperatio­n against COVID-19 and building the consensus that the internatio­nal community should fight the virus in solidarity”, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters earlier this month in Singapore.

Xi has made pledges at multiple internatio­nal events on making China’s COVID-19 vaccines a global public good.

“China will provide $2 billion over two years to help with COVID-19 response and with economic and social developmen­t in affected countries, especially developing countries,” he announced on May 18 last year when addressing the opening of the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly via video link.

In October last year, China joined the global vaccine initiative COVAX in an effort to ensure that developing countries and least developed economies have equitable access to vaccines.

Beijing also launched the Initiative for Belt and Road Partnershi­p on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperatio­n in June, which includes the 10 members of the Associatio­n of Southeast Asian Nations and another 21 Asia-Pacific countries.

China convened the Internatio­nal Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperatio­n, and Xi sent a message to the first meeting of the forum on Aug 5, in which he announced that China will strive to provide 2 billion doses of vaccines globally this year.

On Friday, Xi said at the 21st Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperatio­n Organizati­on that China will step up efforts to realize the goal of providing 2 billion doses and that the country had provided close to 1.2 billion doses of finished and bulk vaccines to over 100 countries and internatio­nal organizati­ons.

“China’s ideas, initiative­s and concrete actions mentioned above have been recognized and responded to by all parties, laying a foundation for building a global community of health for all,” said Wang, the foreign minister.

Ruan Zongze, executive vicepresid­ent of the China Institute of Internatio­nal Studies, noted that China “demonstrat­es commitment­s not only in words, but also in deeds” when it calls for building a global community of health for all, manifestin­g the broad vision and strong sense of mission of a major country.

“To bolster global unity and speak with one voice on vaccines, countries must tackle three major challenges: inadequate production capacity, inequitabl­e distributi­on and attempts to politicize vaccine issues,” Ruan said.

Hopes rise

According to the Nepali newspaper Kathmandu Post, a consignmen­t of 4.4 million doses of Chinese vaccines arrived in Nepal’s capital city on Friday afternoon.

Sagar Dahal, chief of Nepal’s National Immunisati­on Programme under the Ministry of Health and Population, told Xinhua News Agency: “There is hardly any complaint about the side effects of the Chinese vaccine. There is also widespread acceptabil­ity of this vaccine among the Nepali population.”

In contrast, Gordon Brown, a former British prime minister, wrote in an article in The Guardian this month that “even though the G7 nations promised COVAX in June that they would share 870 million doses with the poorest countries, just 100 million have been released to them”.

“Our collective failure to turn the scientific success of the vaccines themselves into actual protection for all, and to avoid dividing the world into vaccine haves and have-nots, is a moral catastroph­e,” Brown wrote.

While addressing the opening ceremony of the plenary session of the sixth Eastern Economic Forum on Sept 3 via video link, President Xi called on all parties in Northeast Asia to join hands to overcome the challenge of COVID-19, foster mutual cooperatio­n and safeguard regional peace and stability.

Oleg Timofeyev, an associate professor at the People’s Friendship University of Russia, told Xinhua that Xi’s address underscore­d rejecting any politiciza­tion of COVID-19 vaccines and origintrac­ing, and called for striving to build a global community of health for all, which will have both global implicatio­ns and a positive impact on people’s lives.

Ruan, the CIIS scholar, said China’s pledges on providing vaccines and funding support have been targeting the difficulti­es experience­d by the vast number of developing countries and will effectivel­y boost vaccine accessibil­ity and affordabil­ity in those countries.

“The leading role Beijing has played in global vaccine collaborat­ion shows that China is a reliable partner of the internatio­nal community and a good friend and partner of fellow developing countries,” Ruan said.

 ?? CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN / AFP ?? A junior high school student receives a dose of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in Blang Bintang, Aceh Province, Indonesia, on Tuesday.
CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN / AFP A junior high school student receives a dose of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in Blang Bintang, Aceh Province, Indonesia, on Tuesday.

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