China’s Role In Belt And Road Vaccine Development And The Global Health Silk Road

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Important Covid Health Silk Road Report Released By Shanghai University, the Shanghai Institute for International Studies & China Investment Research

Introduction by Chris Devonshire-Ellis

Our good friend Henry Tillman has kindly allowed us to feature a new,  co-authored document written jointly between China Investment Research, Shanghai University and the Shanghai Institute for International Studies. It was released at the end of last week and can be downloaded here.

Titled “Addressing The Vaccine Gap: Goal-Based Global Governance And The Health Silk Road” the 40 page document identifies both progress and gaps in global vaccine provision, and identifies aspects for solving these through goal-based governance and international cooperation. This latter element is key; China has been consistent in stating that ‘cooperation’ is required to solve global problems ranging from Covid to Energy to Climate Change, while the United States and EU have adopted a ‘competition’ maxim to be applied to China, and to a lesser degree, Russia. These positions are obviously polar opposites, an issue this report indirectly underlines in terms of promoting a cooperative, as opposed to a competitive global health dynamic.

The report provides analysis of the European Unions experiences and initiatives in opening its borders in the wake of Covid, and examines the protocols of vaccine passport issuance. It compares this with China’s experience and vaccine initiatives to examine the lessons learned.

Also discussed is vaccine cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative – again, a distinct solution based platform that to date is passing the US by – and therefore impacting on global health coordination – with Washington’s insistence upon global competition.

The report identifies the BRI Vaccine Hubs that have been developed along the Belt & Road Initiative nations, looks into the distribution and number of doses applied by non-Chinese vaccine manufacturers, and discusses a vital component: China’s unique financing model to get vaccine where it is needed.

It shows how China has utilised its Central, Policy and Multilateral Banks such as AIIB and NDB to shift focus away from infrastructure build and towards healthcare and the provision of liquidity to supply domestic economies. This is in stark contrast to the West’s old model of insisting that vaccine products must contain profit margins for their pharma mamufacturers in order to ‘motivate’ them in the form of royalty payments added to the end user product cost, a classic division between China’s socialist approach versus capitalism. Readers can make up their own minds which is preferable when dealing with global problems.

The difference in approach also highlights the differences in thinking: new financial and cooperative solutions for new global problems as opposed to continuing variations of the 1948 era Marshall Plan.

Henry also kindly provides exclusively for our readers, additional information not included in the document which shows that by the end of August 2021, the 29 countries within the BRI Vaccine Partnership had seen an additional ten countries seek request assistance to produce Chinese vaccines. There are indications that will grow to over 50 new production sites overseas during 2022.

The goals in doing so are straightforward:

  • Enable each country to be vaccine independent by year end 2022
  • Enable each country to control the pricing of their vaccines – as the major manufacturers in the west continue to increase their prices, leveraging their market presence in a new global industry already approaching US$100 billion revenues in year one.

We are grateful to Henry and the authors of this report for allowing us to host it on Asia Briefing. With COP26 concerning global climate change issues also just around the corner, we believe that cooperation, as opposed to competition is key to solving global solutions. This impressive report illustrates the Chinese thinking concerning this and is strongly recommended reading.

Henry Tillman,

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Silk Road Briefing is written by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm has 28 offices throughout Asia, and assists foreign investors into the region. For strategic advisory and business intelligence issues please contact the firm at or visit