Type to search

Brazil criticism of Beijing may have slowed vaccine supply
Sinovac Biotech chief executive Yin Weidong speaks to media in Beijing. Photo: CGTN.

Sinovac Biotech chief executive complained to Brazilian diplomats that Bolsonaro should make retraction to improve relationship

(AF) The chief executive of Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech hinted that anti-China comments made by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro could have delayed shipments of Covid-19 vaccines to the South American country.

Yin Weidong suggested an official retraction would make for a more “fluid” relationship between China and Brazil, according to a report in a Brazilian newspaper.

Bolsonaro said in a speech on May 5 that the coronavirus pandemic could be “chemical warfare” waged by the fastest growing nation, without naming China.

Two weeks later, at a meeting at Sinovac headquarters to discuss vaccine supplies, Yin said a change of attitude in Brasilia would be “convenient” for a more “fluid and positive” relations with the Chinese government, according to the Rio de Janeiro paper O Globo.

That change would “guarantee the sending of supplies” to Brazilian vaccine maker Butantan Institute for the production of the CoronaVac vaccine, O Globo reported.

Bolsonaro’s comments were among other anti-Beijing statements issued by the government. The president also complained during his 2018 election campaign about Chinese acquisitions in Brazil.

In 2020, China demanded an explanation after education minister Abraham Weintraub linked the coronavirus pandemic to the Asian country’s “plan for world domination” in a tweet imitating a Chinese accent.

MAY 19 MEETING

The Sinovac information is contained in a letter sent by the Brazilian embassy in Beijing to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs containing a report of a meeting that took place on May 19 in the Chinese capital between diplomats and Brazilian representatives with Yin.

The report embarrasses the health minister, Marcelo Queiroga, and former foreign minister Ernesto Araújo, who had publicly said that Bolsonaro’s comments  had no impact on negotiations with the Asian country for the supply of vaccine ingredients, O Globo said.

Sinovac Biotech is expected to expand its annual production capacity of CoronaVac to 2 billion doses.

The Chinese company says it has provided more than 600 million vaccines worldwide, and has administered more than 430 million jabs.

More than 460,000 Brazilian citizens have died from Covid-19, the second highest tally in the world in absolute numbers after the US. In per capita figures, the nation ranks eighth.

Nevertheless, Brazil’s gross domestic product expanded faster than expected in the first quarter, bringing South America’s largest economy back to where it was before the pandemic struck at the end of 2019.

ALSO SEE:

Sinovac trial suspension complicates vaccine race for China

Brazil’s ties with China strained

George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

AF China Bond