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VOA: How much do Chinese vaccines help increase Beijing's influence in the Balkans?
Written by SOT.COM.AL 26 Shkurt 2021
At a time when many countries have difficulty securing sufficient doses of coronavirus vaccines, China has stepped up efforts to distribute its vaccines in the Balkans. Some experts say this is an attempt to increase its influence in the region.
Hungary was the first member of the European Union to receive Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccines.
China has promised to donate 30,000 doses to Montenegro while Serbia has already received 1.5 million doses.
Observers in the region say China's efforts in the Balkans are a form of vaccine diplomacy.
"I think in the long run, the fact that Europe did not show itself as a player that can help the region will have negative consequences. We are all seeing how Serbia turned to Russia and China to buy large quantities of vaccine. This showed that Serbia, which for years has said it needs to be balanced and not just committed to the West, played the game smart. "I think it's a big mistake for the West not to find a solution to the vaccine, and now China and Russia are winning," said Damir Marusic, a researcher at the Atlantic Council in Washington.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, vaccination started in only one of its two entities. The Bosnian Serb republic, traditionally close to Russia, has secured a small number of doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and plans to receive more in the future. They also have an initial contract to buy vaccines from China. The other entity (Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina) has relied solely on the Covax system and has not yet received any doses.
"In a pandemic it is completely irresponsible to rely solely on the promise that something will be done and not have a second or third alternative," says Bakir Nakas, an infectious disease specialist.
Por ajo që disa ekspertë e shohin si shqetësuese është mungesa e informacionit për cilësinë e vaksinave, krahasuar me ato të prodhuara në Perëndim. Shumë njerëz besojnë se Kina po përdor shpërndarjen e vaksinave për të fituar ndikim dhe për të treguar se sistemi autoritar i Kinës është më efikas sesa demokracitë perëndimore.
“Kina mund ta përdorë këtë si një shembull që marrëdhënia e Serbisë me Kinën ka qenë në të mirë të Serbisë. Pikërisht këtë ka thënë edhe Presidenti Vuçiç, pra ‘shihni se çfarëkemi mundur të marrim nga miqtë tanë kinezë’ ndërsa Bashkimi Evropian dhe sistemi Covax ka qenë tepër i ngadaltë në prodhimin dhe shpërndarjen e vaksinave, për të cilat të gjitha vendet kanë pasur nevojë të jashtëzakonshme,” thotë David Shullman, i Institutit Ndërkombëtar Republikan në Uashington.
Mr. Shullman adds that in the future, it will be important to monitor China's actions in other areas, such as technology and innovation./VOA