Chinese media blames Delhi’s meddling for its vaccine fall out with Dhaka
New Delhi, Jan 27: The Chinese state media has blamed Delhi's meddling for the Chinese vaccine trials in Dhaka falling apart.
The nationalist tabloid run by the Communist Party of China said that the trials according to the agreement were finalised in July and trials were to begin in August. According to the initial agreement, Bangladesh did not need to share the cost, it was further reported.
The clinical trials were delayed until October due to the Indian government meddling in the two sides' cooperation during the period, the report also said. A September 22 letter by Sinovac Biotech to Dhaka said that the trials scheduled in August had to be pushed back due to delay in approvals from Dhaka.
Bangladesh's health minister Zahid Maleque told Reuters that Dhaka would not go ahead with the trials because the company was demanding funding and this was contrary to the original agreement.
We are not funding the trial. This was not in the agreement and they never asked for money when they approached us. According to the agreement, they will bear all the expenses of the trial and they will give us 11,000 free vaccines and they will share the technology so that our pharmaceutical companies can make the vaccine, Maleque had told Reuters in October last year.
Bangladesh turned to India for the supply of the Serum Institute of India's Covishield vaccine, after Beijing asked Dhaka to share costs of clinical trials of Sinovac.
India is clearly gaining the edge over China when it comes to vaccine diplomacy. Free shipments containing the first batch of Covishield which is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India have already reached many nations. 2 million doses were supplied to Bangladesh, while 1 million was given to Nepal as a gift under the Neighbourhood First Policy.
1.5 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine were sent to Bhutan while 1 lakh were dispatched to the Maldives. India is also planning on supplying vaccines to Brazil, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Morocco.
Bangladesh foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said after receiving the consignment said, India stood by Bangladesh during the Liberation war of 1971 and today when the pandemic is rattling the world, India again came with gifts of vaccines.
Nepal and Maldives both said that India has shown goodwill by providing the vaccine. The two nations also thanked India for the gift. External affairs minister S Jaishankar said in a tweet, "Nepal receives Indian vaccines. Putting neighbours first, putting people first!" "Touchdown in Dhaka. #VaccineMaitri reaffirms the highest priority accorded by India to relations with Bangladesh."
While India is being praised by its neighbouring nations for Vaccine diplomacy, the same is not the case with China. Nepal was promised the Sinopharm shots from China, but clearance is still awaited. Bangladesh too was supposed get 1.10 lakh doses of the Sinovac Biotech vaccine from China. However there is a deadlock as Bangladesh has refused to contribute towards the development cost of the vaccine.
India on the other hand will give away nearly 20 million doses of vaccines to its neighbours. India is also helping with the training of health workers in some of these countries.
It's a well-crafted, calibrated series of actions you are seeing, they confirm the validity of our 'neighbourhood first' policy," former Indian ambassador Rajiv Bhatia told Reuters.