- Beijing uses Covid vaccine as diplomatic tool
- Hong Kong activists hope for more help from Europe
- China’s controversial investment in foreign coal-fired power plants
- Innovations in train manufacturing
- Heads: Verena Menzel
German politicians have often denounced the massive interventions of the Beijing central government in Hong Kong, the security law, and the arbitrary arrests – sometimes louder, sometimes quieter. But how consistent are they in the end? Activist Glacier Kwong demands: Talking is not enough. Germany must become active. Finn Mayer-Kuckuk explores which means can be used realistically.
Not enough Covid vaccine in Europe – that is the central topic these days. Marcel Grzanna describes Chinese vaccine diplomacy and concludes: While we are arguing, Beijing is securing market shares and political influence worldwide.
That the construction of coal-fired power plants runs counter to global efforts to reduce carbon emissions is a truism. Nico Beckert examines the role Chinese investments are playing globally.
Communication requires understanding – as each of us knows. I would like to recommend today’s Heads about Verena Menzel.
Power expansion through Covid vaccine
Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and the Chinese ambassador to the country took advantage of the arrival of one million vaccine doses from China at Belgrade airport to publicly close ranks. Vucic stressed gratitude and friendship with China and his conviction that the Chinese vaccine is safe. For his part, Ambassador Chen Bo took the opportunity to outline China’s role in spearheading the supply of vaccines to the world: A classic win-win situation according to Beijing’s usual rhetoric.
When two fancy themselves winners, the question remains whether there is also a loser and who that might be. Supplying parts of the world with the Covid vaccine is important to the People’s Republic of China in advancing its geopolitical interests. Apart from the health of millions of Serbs, Beijing also cares about its own image and growing influence in the world. And where China gains influence through vaccine diplomacy, another actor inevitably loses ground. In this case, the European Union, which regularly criticizes Serbia’s President Vucic. Accordingly, the People’s Republic is now perceived positively in Serbia, while the EU, which the country would actually like to join one day, is portrayed as an unreliable partner.
Judging by the bare numbers of vaccine doses, Europe has poor arguments. Only a few tens of thousands have reached Serbia from the continent so far, while the People’s Republic has already delivered seven figures. Just under a year ago, Beijing managed to turn the Covid crisis in Serbia in its favor by sending aid supplies and specialists. Huge posters in Belgrade’s city center as “thanks to Brother Xi (Jinping)” symbolized Beijing’s stage victory and apparently made many Serbs forget that the EU has announced a billion-euro investment package for the Western Balkans region, from which Serbia is likely to benefit massively. The financial volume of European aid to Serbia is many times greater than the Chinese volume.
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