China and Indonesia have agreed to work more closely in the fight against COVID-19 as Beijing seeks to strengthen ties with neighboring countries in the region through “vaccine diplomacy”.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, at a meeting with Indonesian special envoy Luhut Binsar Panjaitan in Kunming, said that joint vaccine programs could provide a renewed focus between Beijing and Jakarta.
“China is ready to work with Indonesia on vaccine research, production and distribution, and at the same time, supports exchanges between relevant departments and medical institutes to help ensure affordable vaccine accessibility. region and around the world ”, Mr. Vuong Nghi said.
Beijing has used the concept of vaccine diplomacy to attract neighbors, including promising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and others, that it will be one of the first to receive COVID. -19 China when these vaccines are successful.
Chinese President Xi Jinping in May also confirmed that any vaccines developed in China would be “a global public good”.
China announced on October 9 that it had registered the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Covax vaccine distribution program to help middle and low-income countries get free access to vaccines.
The meeting with the Indonesian special envoy took place ahead of Minister Vuong Nghi’s visit to Southeast Asia, which began on October 12.
He will have visits to Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, Thailand and Singapore.
The trip comes after the US kicked off its Mekong-US Partnership last month, bringing in over $ 150 million worth of projects to Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, a move arguably to counter Chinese influence in Southeast Asia.
As the rivalry intensifies, Beijing and Washington both seek to garner support in the region.
Pang Zhongying, an international affairs analyst at Ocean of China University, said that as one of the leading countries in the global race to develop an effective vaccine for COVID-19, China really wants make good use of its advantages. “Vaccines are at the heart of China’s ‘charm landing’ in Southeast Asia. Turning vaccines into a public good is a good thing, but any push associated with geopolitical ends should be limited.
Without its own vaccine, Indonesia is keen to secure a supply of COVID-19 vaccine from pharmaceutical companies around the world, including China’s Sinovac Biotech, which is in the final stages of testing. on body.
In August, the company announced it would help Indonesian state-owned drugmaker Bio Farma produce at least 40 million doses of vaccine at its own facilities by March 2021.
While China appears to have control of COVID-19, the disease is still raging in some parts of Southeast Asia. Indonesia’s Ministry of Health reported a daily record high of 4,094 new cases and 97 cases of vong on October 9, bringing the total number of cases and rates of death in the country to 324,658 and 11,677.