China’s “vaccine diplomacy,” which has become central to its foreign policy this year, might hamper Taiwan’s efforts to build relations with developing countries, an expert said.
“China, as one of the few countries other than the United Kingdom and the United States to have produced a COVID-19 vaccine, will certainly use that as a diplomatic tool,” said Kung Shan-son (龔祥生), an assistant research fellow at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research.
Beijing’s major goals in its “vaccine diplomacy” are to promote its national image through humanitarian aid and to solidify its relations with countries that are included in its Belt and Road Initiative, Kung wrote in an article published on Friday in the institute’s Defense Security Biweekly.
The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) effort, aimed mainly at developing countries, might negatively affect Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy, which was introduced in 2016 by the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to reduce Taiwan’s dependence on China, Kung said.
“The Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos are some of the countries included in the New Southbound Policy that are also being targeted by Beijing in its vaccine diplomacy,” Kung wrote.
Countries that receive vaccine supplies from China would feel pressure from Beijing about their engagements with Taiwan, Kung wrote in the piece, titled “Outlook of the CCP’s Foreign-related Work in 2021.”
According to Chinese media, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) on Feb. 4 said that Beijing would provide 10 million doses of vaccines to COVAX to meet urgent needs in developing countries. COVAX is a global initiative aimed at providing equitable access to vaccines, led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the WHO.
At the end of last month, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) said that China was exporting COVID-19 vaccines to 27 nations and providing vaccine aid to 53 countries in need, as part of Beijing’s efforts to follow through on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) pledge that vaccines “must be a global public good.”
Despite China’s “vaccine diplomacy” efforts, its aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomacy might continue to alarm Western countries, especially the US, and thus bolster international support for Taiwan, Kung wrote.
Meanwhile, Beijing’s external efforts this year would include economic recovery, regional integration and global issues, such as climate change and public health, Kung said.
Beijing is also likely to work on addressing new challenges in its relations with the US and building on its ties with Russia, as it celebrates the 20th anniversary of a good neighbor and friendly cooperation treaty with the latter this year, Kung said.
INTERNATIONAL WEED DAY: Advocates are to hold a demonstration to push for the decriminalization of marijuana and allowing its use for treatment of certain conditions It is time for Taiwanese society to examine the medical benefits of cannabis, in line with the international trend to lift restrictions on and decriminalize the use of marijuana, two legislators said yesterday, ahead of tomorrow’s “Rally for Equal Rights for Cannabis” in Taipei. Taiwan is one of a few countries holding a “420 International Weed Day” event — which usually takes place around the April 20 weekend — as most nations have canceled it this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said organizer Green Sensation, which is composed of doctors, lawyers and entertainers, among others. The group released a
The navy’s new 10,600-tonne warship is on Tuesday to be christened the ROCN Yushan (玉山), as the nation’s indigenous shipbuilding program reaches a milestone, sources said yesterday. The vessel, previously referred to as the “new landing platform dock,” was at a shipyard with its name freshly painted on the hull with the number 1401, the Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times) reported yesterday, citing an unnamed observer. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), a member of the legislature’s National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, confirmed the report in a Facebook post. The NT$4.635 billion (US$163 million) ship is designed
DIALOGUE SOUGHT: Washington said it was concerned about the pattern of ongoing attempts to intimidate Taiwan after the 10th day of PLA activity in the region The US on Monday urged Beijing to stop its multifaceted pressure campaign against Taiwan after China sent 25 military jets into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. “The United States notes with concern the pattern of ongoing PRC [People’s Republic of China] attempts to intimidate the region, including Taiwan,” a US Department of State spokesperson said in an e-mail response to questions. “We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan, and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan.” The Ministry of National Defense said that 25 Chinese military aircraft entered the zone on Monday. It was the 10th straight
‘NOT ENTHUSIASTIC’: People who have been approved by the CECC as special cases who need to travel, such as foreign diplomats, would be able to receive a vaccine The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday expanded the eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination to the fourth priority group — people who need to travel abroad for special reasons — adding that out-of-pocket vaccines would be available from Wednesday next week. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said although Taiwan’s COVID-19 vaccination program was on Monday expanded to include the top three groups in the priority list, people are still “not enthusiastic” about getting vaccinated. “Only 1,220 people received a vaccine shot on Tuesday, and a total of 27,113 people have received COVID-19 vaccination” so far, he