As India continues to supply vaccines to foreign nations as grants and through commercial supplies, the nation’s vaccine diplomacy has outmaneuvered China in this regard especially in South Asia. In an attempt to malign Indian vaccines the Chinese government has sought to criticize the Indian initiative through its international propagandist Global Times.
On 20th January India supplied 2 million doses of vaccine to Bangladesh and 1 million doses to Nepal as a gift under its “neighbors first” policy. India also supplied 1,50,000 doses of Covishield to Bhutan and 1,00,000 doses to Maldives on 19th. Until now India has supplied vaccines to Brazil, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius are also likely to be among the first beneficiaries to receive the vaccine. This has affected China’s influence in these countries.
Global Time quoted, “India’s vaccines are mainly supplied to South Asian countries, as a form of aid. Not many countries actually purchased Indian vaccines due to quality concerns”. However in reality India is commercially supplying vaccines to many countries including Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Bangladesh and others. Even China’s close ally Cambodia has sought vaccines from India saying the Chinese supply would not suffice.
Citing anonymous “observers” and “netizens” Global Times has also questioned India’s ability to manufacture and produce high-quality vaccines after the fire incident at SII. In contrast China has had very little to offer to the countries where it is expanding its influence economically. China had established a strong presence in Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. China, under its Belt and Road project, it is building infrastructure in these countries but these countries have turned their reliance towards India for medical aid.