With vaccine diplomacy, Russia and China are gaining leverage on the cheap while fulfilling commercial goals. In most cases, they are not donating vaccines, but selling them - Photo by Chinnapon

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – With vaccine diplomacy, Russia and China are gaining leverage on the cheap while fulfilling commercial goals. In most cases, they are not donating vaccines, but selling them, report by The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU). In China’ case, state-owned firms are competing with private ones for the supply of shots.

China and Russia are focusing their efforts on regions where they are courting favors from emerging countries, for instance Asia for China, or directly competing with Western powers for influence such as eastern Europe, and in particular the western Balkans, for both China and Russia, or in regions where they have only a limited presence so far as is the case for Latin America, which is traditionally within America’ sphere of influence.

In Russia, said the report, and to a lesser extent also in China, conflicting priorities between vaccinating the domestic population and exporting shots will remain acute throughout 2021. To tackle this issue, both countries are opening additional factories, at home and abroad. However, it s unlikely that extra production lines will help to ease supply issues before the second half of 2021, setting up vaccine factories is technically challenging and it takes a minimum of six months before they are operational.

In the coming years, this will reinforce the global standing and leverage of Russia and China in emerging countries, helping both countries to gain influence and pursue their interests around the world. The longer term consequence of today’ vaccine diplomacy will be a further fragmentation of the global order.

Agathe Demarais, The EIU’ global forecasting director, says, “With vaccine diplomacy, Russia and China seek to leverage resentment against Western countries, which have pre-booked more than half of the global supply of vaccines this year and are prioritising immunizing their own populations.”

Ms Demarais adds that “Vaccine diplomacy is not about sending shots as a one-off operation. Both Russia and China are establishing vaccine facilities across the world and training local workers from emerging countries, betting that such a strategy will boost their presence on the ground for decades to come.”

She mentions that “Western countries will only engage in vaccine diplomacy only later this year. This will likely be too late to catch up with that of Russia and China, which are winning the public relations battle.”

World Health Organization reported, globally, new COVID-19 cases rose for the eighth consecutive week, with over 5.2 million new cases reported in the last week. The number of new deaths increased for the fifth consecutive week, increasing by 8 percent compared to last week, with over 83 000 new deaths reported.

While all regions except the European Region reported an increase in incident cases in the last week, the largest increase continues to be reported by the South-East Asia Region, largely driven by India, followed by the Western Pacific Region.

Edited by Editorial Staff, Email: theinsiderstories@gmail.com