Monday, August 8, 2022

Vaccine diplomacy: India pushes back against China’s presence in South Asia

India has started ramping up its vaccine donation programme. Free shipments of coronavirus vaccines are being sent off to other countries in South Asia. This can result in removing Chinese influence from these countries and India potentially dominating Asia diplomatically.

Already, free doses of Covishield researched and produced by the Serum Institute of India in Pune reached several nations. 2 million vaccine doses were sent to Bangladesh on January 21 and another million doses to Nepal. No charges were issued for these vaccines, which were called a gift under the “Neighbourhood First” policy.

More vaccines are scheduled to be sent off to Myanmar and Seychelles in the upcoming days. Moreover, a total of 150,000 Covishield vaccine doses had been delivered to Bhutan and around 100,000 doses to the Maldives previously.

These countries, which have been aided extensively by India, have expressed their gratitude for the help provided.

Bangladesh’s foreign minister Dr A K Abdul Momen said that India had stood by Bangladesh during the Liberation War of 1971, and today, when the pandemic is rattling the world, India again came forward with gifts of vaccines.

Nepal’s minister of health and population Hridayesh Tripathi India has displayed its goodwill by sending the vaccines.

Mohamed Nasheed, a politician from Maldives, appreciated India for the vaccines and said thay that it has always been the first responder and dependable friend of the Maldives.

India is also looking beyond its neighbours, and millions more doses will be transported to more distant countries such as Brazil, South Africa and Saudi Arabia throughout the next weeks.

These steps by India seem to to be quite effective in curtailing Chinese influence as the Chinese government is stalling from delivering vaccines to these countries.

China had promised 1,10,000 free vaccine doses developed by the company Sinovac Biotech. However, it declined to contribute to the development cost of the vaccine resulting in a stalemate.

China had established a strong presence in Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. China, under its Belt and Road project, was building infrastructure on these countries but the opportunity to send medical aid to these countries has turned their reliance towards India.

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