A worker performs a quality check in the packaging facility of Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech. File picture: Thomas Peter/Reuters
A worker performs a quality check in the packaging facility of Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech. File picture: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Beijing’s roll-out of vaccines shows caring nature

By Opinion Time of article published Feb 23, 2021

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Dr Wesley Seale

Calling me during hard lockdown last year in Beijing, my friend and fellow South African, Sibusiso, explained how two ordinary Chinese men came to visit him in his student dorm.

He described how these two plain-looking Chinese men knocked on his room door, chatted to him, offered him some extra cash, as a foreign student, and gave him some foodstuffs while he and his peers were under lockdown. Only after the visit would he discover that one of the men was the university’s president.

Without any pretence or demand for recognition, the president of one of China’s leading universities paid a visit to ordinary students in their dormitory during uncomfortable lockdown measures. Measures put in place simply to prevent the virus from spreading.

This story illustrates just how Chinese people care about others. Not only do they practice a genuine equality towards everyone, whether a university president or an ordinary student, this Chinese culture and thinking also lies at the heart of China’s outreach to the rest of the international community, especially in fighting Covid-19.

China’s current roll-out of vaccines in some of the most poorest and perilous countries on Earth, including Palestine, Somalia, Iraq, South Sudan and Syria, is only a continuation of their great efforts to assist countries across the globe to fight Covid-19. This help has been coming from China since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Just as China has been able to defeat deprivation, lifting over 850 million people out of poverty, so too has it begun to roll-out a vaccine programme within the country. While the revitalisation of the rural regions is President Xi Jinping’s next priority after defeating poverty in China, there should be little doubt that university professors, government officials, workers and students will stand behind each other in the queue to get vaccinated. Yet because it is a caring society, a people-centred society, China will start with vaccinating vulnerable groups such as the aged.

However, China’s fight against poverty has not only been inward looking but has also ensured that it works with other countries, especially in Africa, to achieve freedom from colonialism first and now economic freedom. Consequently, China has championed infrastructure projects, building highways, railways, airports, dams and bridges, together with other development such as information technology in order to defeat poverty in Africa as well.

While many of the world’s countries, especially in the West, seek to gobble up the available vaccines, China continues to care and share. Reports suggest that high income countries, which represent a mere 16% of the world’s population, have bought 70% of the available vaccines globally. According to the UN, 75% of available vaccines have been administered to the people of only 10 countries.

With this as the context, it was not surprising that state councillor and Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, spoke about “strengthening global anti-pandemic co-operation with a people-centred approach” at the recent meeting of the UN Security Council on the vaccine issue.

As illustrated by the university president’s visit to my friend, S’bu, China puts people first and is a caring society. Mr Wang Yi’s speech emphasised the need to ensure that even when dealing with the issue of the vaccine, the people of the world, especially the most vulnerable, must be prioritised.

The results of this people-centred approach speaks through China’s economic growth results in 2020 even as other countries were struggling economically. While even through its vaccine programme, China shows the world that its caring culture continues!

* Dr Wesley Seale is an international relations analyst. He completed his PhD in Beijing.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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