Opinion: The United States Can’t Ignore China’s Vaccine Diplomacy in Latin America

By Josh Rogin

The United States has a blind spot in recognizing the risk of letting China and Russia take ground in the region, said AS/COA's Eric Farnsworth to The Washington Post.

China has abused its power at every stage of the Covid-19 pandemic to bully countries and advance its interests — and Beijing is now using vaccine supplies to pressure governments across the Western Hemisphere. The Biden administration ignores China’s pernicious vaccine diplomacy in our neighborhood at the peril of the safety and security of the entire region.

Beijing’s use of the pandemic to push its economic expansion and enforce the Chinese Communist Party’s political agenda is not new. At the start of the crisis, China dangled medical equipment over the heads of governments in exchange for concessions or as punishment for transgressions. The Chinese government even threatened the U.S. government that it would withhold crucial supplies if the Trump administration didn’t shut up about China’s early mishandling of the outbreak

Now, one year later, Beijing is using vaccines as leverage around the world — but especially in Latin America, where the virus is raging and fragile governments are struggling to tamp down public unrest.…

“The United States has long had a blind spot in recognizing the significant risk of letting China and also Russia take the high ground in the Western Hemisphere,” said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas and Americas Society. “In the public mind, the impression has developed that China is going to come and rescue the region, while we in the United States have been seen as preoccupied with our needs.”…

Read the full article.