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Monday, April 15, 2024

Quad to counter China on ‘COVID Vaccine Diplomacy’

Quad's efforts to counter China on COVID Vaccine Diplomacy is a futile idea and the idea proposed in quad Summit to manufacture Corona Vaccine in India will not succeed. This has become even more obvious in the last couple of months seeing the mismanaged approach India has taken to Covid and the number of people who have lost their lives recently to the pandemic.

Quad – Asia-Pacific Alliance

“Quad” or Asia-Pacific Alliance was created in 2007 to counter China. Initially, the forum was introduced as a dialogue by then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on “seas of freedom and prosperity,” with the backing of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, Prime Minister John Howard of Australia, and Vice President Dick Cheney of the US. Then emerged as joint military exercises between the United States, India, Japan, and Australia, titled Exercise Malabar in September 2020. The diplomatic and military arrangement was widely viewed as a response to increased Chinese economic and military developments and contained China, and resisted China’s rise.

Quad Summit

The Alliance was irrational and illogical, without having anything solid in common, except jealousy with China. No common borders, no common cultures, no common traditions, no historical background, yet to form such an alliance to contain China, Counter China, and Resist China’s peaceful rise, is beyond understanding.

The first-ever Summit was held on 12 March 2021. It was also a virtual conference. All four member countries participated – President Joe Biden of the USA, Australian Prime Minister Scott, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Mr. Yoshihide Suga Prime Minister of Japan. The Summit discussed many issues and addressed all concerns regarding containing China. In this article, I would like to focus only on “to counter China on COVID Vaccine Diplomacy.”

read more: The Quad: a desperate attempt by US to bully China?

Quad Vaccine Partnership

While guaranteeing that vaccines have been made available to our people, “Quad” partners will launch a landmark partnership to accelerate the end of the COVID-19 Pandemic further. Together, Quad leaders are taking collective action necessary to expand safe and effective COVID-19 Vaccine manufacturing in 2021 and will work together to reinforce and support countries in the Indo-Pacific with vaccination, in close coordination with the prevailing relevant multilateral mechanisms comprising WHO and COVAX.

Drawing on each of our strengths, we will challenge this complex issue with multi-sectoral cooperation across many stages of action, starting with ensuring the global accessibility of safe and effective vaccines.

Quad partners are working collaboratively to achieve expanded manufacturing of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines at facilities in India, prioritizing increased capacity for vaccines authorized by Stringent Regulatory Authorities (SRA). Quad partners will address financing and logistical demands for producing, procurement, and delivering safe and effective vaccines. Quad partners will work to use our shared tools and expertise through mechanisms at institutions including the United States Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and, as appropriate, Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC), as well as others.

The United States, through the DFC, will work with Biological E Ltd., to finance increased capacity to support Biological E’s effort to manufacture at least 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2022 with Strict Regulatory Authorization (SRA) and World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing (EUL), including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Japan, through JICA, is in discussions to extend concessional yen loans for the Government of India to expand manufacturing for COVID-19 vaccines for export, with a priority on manufacturing vaccines that have received authorization from WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL) or Tough Regulatory Authorities.

read more: Biden to meet Quad alliance PMs- a message to China?

Quad partners will guarantee expanded manufacturing will be exported for the global benefit and be acquired through key multilateral initiatives, such as COVAX, that provide life-saving vaccines for low-income nations and countries in need.

Quad partners will also collaborate to strengthen “last-mile” vaccination, building on existing health-security and development programs, and across our governments to coordinate and improve our programs in the Indo-Pacific.

This includes assisting countries with vaccine readiness and delivery, vaccine procurement, health workforce preparedness, responses to vaccine misinformation, community engagement, immunization aptitude, and more.

Australia will contribute US$77 million for providing vaccines and “last-mile” delivery support with a focus on Southeast Asia, in addition to its existing pledge of US$407 million for regional vaccine access and health security which will deliver full vaccine coverage to nine Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste, and support procurement, prepare for vaccine delivery and fortify health systems in Southeast Asia.

Japan will support vaccination programs of developing countries, such as the purchase of vaccines and cold-chain support, including through the provision of funding of $41 million and new concessional yen loans, guaranteeing alignment with and support of COVAX.

The United States will leverage prevailing programs to boost vaccination capability further, drawing on at least $100 million in regional energies focused on immunization.

Our pledge will be implemented by unveiling a senior-level Quad Vaccine Experts Group,  top scientists, and officials  from our governments. This group will support Quad teamwork in the long term and use science and evidence to:

  • Design and execution plan for the Quad COVID-19 vaccine effort;
  • Identify hurdles impeding vaccine management in the region;
  • Work with financers and manufacturing facilities to monitor timely and adequate capacity expansion that will lead to broader distribution of safe and effective vaccines;
  • Share governmental plans to backing Indo-Pacific health security and COVID-19 response, and identify real-world cooperation on ”last-mile” delivery for hard-to-reach communities in need;
  • Strengthen and backing the life-saving work of international organizations, including the WHO, COVAX, Gavi, CEPI, UNICEF, the G7, ASEAN, and governments, and appeal to other countries to do the same;
  • Make additional tangible recommendations before the end of the year.

Facts and ground realities

Role of USA

According to the Worldometer report on 15 March, 2021, the total number of Coronavirus cases is 120,452,636, and the death toll: 2,666,125. Whereas in the US, the total number of Coronavirus cases is: 30,081,657, and the death toll: 547,234. (These figures may keep on changing over time). It shows that the US is the country’s worst hit by Coronavirus. It has exposed the country’s capabilities to face Pandemic. Being the Superpower, largest economy, and most advanced country in Science, Technology, and Innovation, the US was expected to overcome the Pandemic and have helped the rest of the World rescue human lives worldwide.

The US has suffered heavy losses in the form of precious human lives and economic losses too. The mismanagement, lack of seriousness, and lack of capabilities led the country to be a leader in losses. The War-craze, irrational-Military misadventures, and lavish defense expenditures have turned the US into a net loser. US Dollars 1.9 Trillion subsidies for citizens have dented the national economy. The country’s Industry, Trade, Agriculture capacity has been affected adversely.

read more: Launching Health Silk Road under CPEC

The Vaccine produced in America failed to get recognition in its own public. Many youths are reluctant to get American Vaccine; even the servicemen (armed Forces) has shown resentment is getting compulsory vaccine doses. If the American public has no trust in American vaccines, how can they be popularized in the rest of the World?

American capacity to invest in India for vaccine production is doubtful. If they have capital and know-how, they should have produced better Vaccines.

The American society is so much divided and biased that it might take decades to rectify things damaged by the outgoing President Trump. No one doubts the sincerity of President Joe Biden. Still, the harm caused to America under Trump Administration was so severe that President Joe Biden may not be able to rectify it all.

Role of Japan

Although Japan has Island disputes with China and may be willing to counter China, the Japanese public has not forgotten the pain of “two Nuclear Bombs” in 1945 dropped by the US, one on Nagasaki and another on Hiroshima. Yes, Japan is a close ally with the US, under an agreement signed just after their surrender in World War II (WWII). But the agreement was one-sided and was got signed at gunpoint under huge American pressure. The public in Japan have never accepted the terms and conditions of that agreement from the core of their hearts.

Japanese are wise people and understand the repercussions of enmity with China, which is just next-door neighbor. While China is rising and emerging as a geopolitical power, Japan may be the beneficiary of China’s rise by extending hands of friendship and cooperation. Japan could not afford any tussle with rising power – China.

Japan has many domestic issues like Economy, Population, and political instability. Japan may not contribute to the anti-China Quad’s policy of countering the COVID Vaccine Diplomacy of China.

read more: Are vaccines being deployed as part of hybrid war?

Role of India

Theoretically, the US or Europe may indeed manufacture Vaccines in India to cut down the cost. But India is no longer a competitive place for manufacturing. Since extremists have hijacked the Indian Government, India has been turned into an extremist Hindu state. Under the umbrella of BJP, Prime Minister Modi gathered all extremist Hindu groups and won the election to become Prime Minister; now, the allied extremist groups are dictating the Government. RSS and like-mined extremist groups existed since the 1920s but were never part of Government or so powerful that they could implement their agenda. They plan to turn India into a pure Hindu state. They ask all non-Hindus (Christian, Muslims, Sikhs, Dalits, and all other minorities) to convert into Hinduism or leave India. They demanded that the Christians should go back to Europe and Muslims to return Middle-East. There is no space for non-Hindus in India. India has been turned into an extremist, non-democratic, and non-secular state.

Recent events like the provocation of Kashmir on 5 August 2019, Introduction of Amended Citizenship Act, Genocide of Muslims, Misadventure in Ladakh, Interference in neighboring countries, etc., India has become the worst country in violations of Human Rights and religious restrictions on minorities.

Due to series of extremist measures, unrest is prevailing in India widely. Foreign Investors are moving out. Local Investors are also trying to move their capital out of India. The industrialist is shifting their Industries out of India to safer places. The skilled and highly qualified workforce is also immigrating to more developed and peaceful destinations in Europe, Canada, America, Middle-East, etc. India is no longer an attractive place for investors, industrialists, etc.

Especially in Vaccine, India’s reputation is abysmal. Several countries have rejected Indian vaccines as their side effects are severe. There are cases of getting Coronavirus, even after having vaccinated by Indian manufactured Vaccine. Indian Vaccine has been flapped already. Any attempt to manufacture Western Vaccine in India cannot be trusted and may meet the same fortune. Especially AstraZeneca, which has been reported as the major cause of blood clotting and restricted in several European countries. Although the Manufacturer is giving few justifications, yet, the Vaccine is not considered safe in the masses.

The idea proposed in quad Summit to manufacture Corona Vaccine in India will not succeed.

Role of Australia

Australia is among very few countries in the World, who enjoyed a Trade balance with China. China is one of the World’s most significant manufacturers and one of the World’s biggest exporters. China enjoys a trade surplus with almost all countries in the World, with very few exceptions. Australia was among the exceptions.

Under pressure from the US, Australia tried to coerce China and offended China. China took reasonable measures to extend equal grounds to Australian beef exporters with the rest of the World. Their beef export dropped considerably, harming the Australian economy heavily. If other Australian products have to compete in the international markets, they might also not export to China. The Australian economy was heavily dependent on export to China.

Furthermore, Australia shares many common interests with China in the Pacific Ocean and could not afford to confront China. Americans might indeed help Australia to some extent, but what are American capabilities? Is it a question mark too?

read more: UK raises $1 billion in Covid-19 vaccine donations for “vulnerable countries”

Futile effort to counter China’s vaccine diplomacy

Quad’s efforts to counter China on Coronavirus Vaccine Diplomacy is a futile idea and cannot succeed. In fact, China was the first country to face an outbreak. Then, there was little knowledge about COVID-19. China spent extra efforts to research the Virus and its genomics and concluded that it is a highly contagious virus. Quarantine is the only solution to control its spread. China took strict measures and overcame soon. China is the only country in the World that got the victory in its struggle against the Virus.

After overcoming the Pandemic, China restored its economic activities. Now China is almost back on track and nearly normalized. Chinese economy suffered in the early days of the Pandemic. As a result, the last year’s GDP growth was dropped to 2.3 percent only. Whereas the rest of the World suffered heavily, some countries entered into recession or nearly collapsed economically. China has set its GDP growth for 2021 at 6 percent, which is very rational and achievable.

China is a responsible nation and understands its international obligation. China has been helping the World in overcoming the Pandemic. China has supplied medical materials and equipment to many countries, especially the developing nations and friendly countries.

Chinese vaccines are well-conceived and have almost no side effects or reaction. It is one of the most effective Vaccines among all existing vaccines in the World. It is cost-effective too. However, China decided to make its Vaccine a public good and offer a donation to most countries.

Pakistan is the biggest beneficiary of Chinese assistance, either in Face-Masks, Testing Kits, Ventilators, or Vaccines; China extended hands of friendship on all fronts. Chinese experts are providing training, advice to Pakistani counterparts. As a result, Pakistan is a lucky country with the lowest casualties and the least affected nation in this region.

The people and Government of Pakistan are grateful to the People and Government of China for their generous assistance. It is the practical implementation of “A friend indeed is a friend in need.”

The World should acknowledge the Chinese capabilities in Science, Technology, and Research. No other country can compete with China in advanced research and innovations. The Infrastructure of research and Human resource available in China is outstanding. Research funding is liberal, and R&D expenditure is generous. China has money, technology, and human resource and can face any challenge. The World should appreciate Chinese generosity in helping the rest of the World in the fight against COVID-19. Instead of jealousy, admiration is expected.

The Quad’s strategy to counter China will lead them to further disaster. However, if they cooperate with China, gain from the Chinese experience, and use Chinese Vaccine, they might be better off. Let the public and especially the youth decide whether to confront China and suffer more damages or cooperate with China and get rid of Coronavirus.

Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).