China Asks: Is Biden Vaccine Giveaway to India Plagued by ‘Overt Racism’?

A medical worker inoculates a colleague with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Rajawadi Hospital in Mumbai on January 16, 2021. (Indranil Mukherjee/AFP via Getty Images)
Indranil Mukherjee/AFP via Getty Images

The Chinese government newspaper Global Times followed up criticism of the United States for not offering India aid in fighting the Chinese coronavirus pandemic — a false claim — by asking Tuesday if the aid offered was the product of “overt racism.”

India, at press time, is experiencing the most rapid rates of Chinese coronavirus infection anywhere in the world since the pandemic began. Its hospitals are struggling to treat all patients that require intensive care and, given the sudden demand for oxygen tanks, is also facing a crime wave as vandals try to steal oxygen shipments meant for coronavirus victims.

India documented 319,509 new cases of coronavirus on Monday and nearly 3,000 deaths. It has documented over 17 million cases nationwide since the pandemic began.

President Joe Biden announced Sunday that he would ease export restrictions to allow for greater shipments of raw materials used to make Chinese coronavirus vaccines to India. Washington would also send “oxygen-related supplies, vaccine materials, and therapeutics” to India to help stop the spread of the virus. The U.S. also announced it would share tens of millions of doses of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine developed by the European firm AstraZeneca with the world; the majority are expected to go to India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a close ally of the United States, thanked the U.S. government for its support.

The Global Times condemned the U.S. for aiding its ally Tuesday, noting the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the United States and that several countries have paused the distribution of the product over concerns that it may cause rare blood clots in some patients.

“Washington is sending out its vaccine stockpiles to other countries bit by bit, like squeezing a toothpaste tube,” the Chinese outlet claimed. “Is it categorizing people into classes? Is there overt racism and discrimination?”

The publication did not elaborate on that question, instead accusing the U.S. of distributing “inferior” vaccines to other nations generally. It appeared to imply, however, that, by offering India AstraZeneca brand products, Washington was making a statement against ethnic Indian people.

More pointedly, the Global Times asked, “why AstraZeneca but not Pfizer?”

The vaccine against Chinese coronavirus developed by Pfizer is in active distribution in the United States, the first of its kind to be approved by the FDA. It is also available around the world and, soon, in China, after the Communist Party admitted Chinese-made vaccines “don’t have very high protection rates.”

The Pfizer product has tested at about 95 percent efficacy in preventing all coronavirus infections, compared to AstraZeneca’s, which has tested at 79 percent effective in preventing only symptomatic infections.

The Global Times answered its own question: the U.S. government “thinks it should realize immunity as soon as possible and then distribute the inferior vaccines to other countries,” it denounced angrily. Unlike China, no experts have expressed concern that the U.S. will lag in herd immunity due to low levels of vaccination, potentially threatening the rest of the world. This outraged the Global Times writers.

The government propaganda outlet went on to describe America’s prioritizing of the vaccination of its own citizens — unlike China, which has sold millions of doses of its dubious products to the world while its own citizens have largely opted against receiving a vaccine — as “depressing to the world.”

“When it comes to vaccines, the US and some developing countries can be compared as this: While rich people have wine and dining, poor people die of cold and hunger by the roadside,” the Global Times railed. “And this is just a microcosm of US hegemony. Such hegemonism is deeply embedded in every aspect of US foreign relations. This includes its abuse of the dollar advantage and its greedy and perverted pursuit of national security.”

Elsewhere on Tuesday, the Global Times condemned the aid to India as “too late” and “selfish and hypocritical.”

The Chinese government newspaper displayed the same attitude against the United States on Sunday when it falsely reported that America would not help India at all.

“The ugly ‘America First’ doctrine on vaccines was fully revealed by the coronavirus outbreak in India,” the newspaper declared. “The world cannot allow the U.S. to abuse the right to define international justice. Washington has refused to share vaccines with developing countries proportionally. The world should jointly condemn it, making Washington bend its head, like a rat scurrying across the street with everybody chasing it.”

The Chinese Communist Party has repeatedly offered India aid in public statements, but not actually sent anything for free there at press time. China’s factories are answering the demand for personal protective gear and other medical supplies for a profit, however, struggling to keep up with paid orders from Indian hospitals.

“China has been following closely the epidemic situation in India and expressed sympathies over the worsening situation. We expressed readiness early on to help curb the latest surge,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters Monday. “You asked about Indian companies’ purchase of China’s anti-epidemic medical supplies. As far as I know, that’s normal business interaction.”

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