After being globally slammed for its lies on Covid-19 origin, China is now actively pursuing vaccine diplomacy. On Monday, China extended its support to India and South Africa’s proposal for a temporary waiver of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for coronavirus vaccines and stated that Beijing will support any action that aids developing countries in their fight against the pandemic.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China has extended support to the developing nation’s demand for an IPR waiver for COVID-19 vaccines. Zhao stated that “as the world’s largest developing country and a responsible member of the international community, China would do everything it could to help developing countries fight the virus and support all actions that could help developing countries equitably acquiring the vaccines”.

He added that China has provided vaccine assistance to more than 80 countries and three international organisations, as well as vaccine exports to more than 50 countries and is also collaborating on technological transfer and cooperative production with over ten developing countries, including Egypt and the UAE, in order to accelerate large-scale vaccine production. With China’s sudden change of heart, it is quite natural to question what is Xi plotting next?!

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India and South Africa called for TRIPS waiver of certain intellectual property provisions of COVID-19 vaccines in a communication to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in October last year, so that people in developing countries get access to life-saving vaccines and medicines as soon as possible.

The proposal is gathering support even in the US and the European Union. Given the urgency, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called on member countries earlier this month to quickly present and negotiate a text that could temporarily ease trade rules that protect COVID-19 vaccine technology. More than 100 US lawmakers wrote to US President Joe Biden earlier this month, urging him to support India’s WTO proposal to temporarily lift certain intellectual property barriers and allow countries to manufacture COVID-19 diagnostics and vaccines locally.

On Friday, Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan stated that the proposal had received support from a number of countries.
He added that the move would aid in the production of vaccines and other essential products to combat the coronavirus.

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