KATHMANDU: Earlier criticized for putting pressure on Nepal to get the vaccines made in China, the Chinese government has come with another objectionable statement saying Nepalis not inoculated with Chinese vaccine cannot get a visa to China.
The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu issued a statement on March 2 saying that only those who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus with the Chinese vaccines will be allowed to enter China.
“The Chinese Embassy in Nepal will provide facilitation to visa applicants who have been fully vaccinated China-made COVID-19 vaccines and have vaccination certificates,” the statement reads.
However, the Nepal government has maintained silence on the issue.
Interestingly, although the Embassy has said that it would facilitate the visa process only for those who have been vaccinated with Chinese vaccines, China has not provided the vaccines it promised to Nepal yet.
Nepal started the vaccination campaign against coronavirus pandemic after getting Covishield, a vaccine prepared by Oxford-AstraZeneca company in India.
Although China promised to provide the vaccines made by a Chinese Company called Sinopharm, the procurement process is deterred after the company asked Nepal to manage delivery arrangements on its own.
The Department of Drug Administration has approved the Chinese coronavirus vaccine ‘Vero cell’ for emergency use, now.
The lack of vaccines has affected the vaccination campaign in Nepal of late.
The government had started the vaccination campaign against coronavirus pandemic after getting one million Covishield as a grant from the Indian government. The government has signed an agreement to procure two million COVID-19 vaccines from the Serum Institute.
The Serum Institute which provided one million Covishield vaccines before has now said that it will not be able to provide one million vaccines scheduled for the second lot on time.
China’s domineering policy against neighbors: Experts
Experts on foreign policy say that Chinese provisions like the mandatory use of the Chinese vaccine to get a visa for China reflect China’s domineering policy.
“The provisions that to be eligible to go to China one should use only Chinese vaccines is objectionable and should be revoked,” Arun Kumar Subedi, a foreign affairs expert says, “If the provision is meant for all countries like Japan, USA and EU nations they will answer on their own, but in case of Nepal it reflects China’s domineering policy.”
No Chinese embassies in Europe, Japan, or the USA have issued such statements.
Former Nepali Ambassador to India, Deep Kumar Upadhyaya also regards it as a domineering attitude of a large nation against the small and poor countries.
He blames the lack of proper diplomatic dealings for such and says that had the government been able to balance the foreign policy properly, the country would not have seen such bad days.
“Such an attitude and behaviors tarnish China’s international image as well and will harm both countries,” former Ambassador Upadhyaya told Khabarhub.
He advises the government to be more alert and careful on such issues and says that China also should not insist on saying one should use the Chinese vaccines only.
China’s latest policy has hard-hit the Nepali tourists willing to visit China, Nepali entrepreneurs and Nepali youths aspiring to attain Chinese academic degrees.
Physicians also opine that the piling pressure to procure a vaccine made in a specific country is not much rational.
“It is unethical to impose the vaccines made in a country as done by China,” Public health expert Dr. Anup Subedi said, wondering, “What will happen if other countries also come with such conditions?”
According to Dr. Subedi, the Chinese statement delivers a poor diplomatic message.
“It is wrong to say one should use only Chinese vaccine, it is unscientific as well,” he told Khabarhub, adding, “It seems China has made vaccine a political and trade issue.”
Likewise, Dr. Ravindra Sameer, another health expert also thinks that China might have come up with such a strategy to promote its trade.
He reiterates that every country should validate the vaccines approved by World Health Organization (WHO).
Concerns about the quality of Chinese vaccines
Many countries have banned the coronavirus vaccines produced by China claiming it has some serious side effects. The vaccine Nepal is supposed to procure from China has got approval only for emergency use.
WHO approval for the Chinese vaccination is confined to emergency use only. Nepal has also made a similar decision.
The third-phase trial of the Sinovac vaccine developed by the Chinese company Sinopharm was found only 50.4 percent effective in Brazil.
Many developed countries have expressed concerns over the use of Sinovac citing its low effectiveness. The vaccines developed by Oxford and Fitzer Moderna have shown 70 percent and 95 percent effectiveness respectively.
Public health expert Dr. Sameer Mani Dixit states that the quality of the vaccines and their efficiency should be considered seriously prior to procuring vaccines against any disease.
“Whether it is from China or any other company one has to first have some knowledge about it,” Dixit told Khabarhub, adding, “No vaccine should be brought and administered under pressure.”
Public Health Expert Dr. Subedi says that there is a remarkable difference in the structure of Covishield being administered in Nepal and the Chinese vaccine.
The Chinese vaccine is prepared by inactivating the structure of the virus, and its comparative study about its effectiveness is not available yet, Dr. Subedi said.