Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirms Beijing is ‘gifting’ 500,000 doses of vaccine to Islamabad after phone call between foreign ministers
China on Friday said affirmed that it will provide a “batch of vaccines” to Pakistan as “aid,” adding that vaccine manufacturers will be encouraged to expedite the export of immunizations to the neighboring nation.
“In order to support our brothers and sisters in Pakistan, the Chinese government has decided to provide a batch of vaccines as aid and will actively coordinate with the relevant Chinese enterprise to speed up export of vaccines to Pakistan,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a weekly press briefing. She said that Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi had informed his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, of Beijing’s decisions.
The spokesperson stressed that Islamabad and Beijing are “all-weather strategic cooperative partners.” She said both countries had a tradition of mutual support and assistance. “One can always count on a ready helping hand from the other in times of need,” she said, noting that both nations had already been working together to overcome the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the two foreign ministers said in the phone call, our time-tested rock solid friendship has become the most valuable strategic asset to both sides. No matter how the international landscape evolves, China-Pakistan friendly cooperation will continue moving forward,” she said, adding that they would be marking their 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties in 2021.
In a nationally televised address after his phone call with Wang, Qureshi had said Pakistan expected to receive its first shipment of 500,000 doses of an unidentified vaccine from China by Jan. 31. Noting this would be a “gift” that Pakistan would not have to pay for, he said Beijing had also committed to help Islamabad secure additional doses for the first phase of its vaccination program so frontline healthcare workers could all be inoculated in the first quarter of the year.