Mr Ellwood, Tory MP for Bournemouth East, said tensions could spiral into conflict after Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to Britain, suggested his country was making significant progress on the development of a jab – and would be willing to share it with the rest of the world. He told Express.co.uk he feared the vaccine could push already-tense relations between the US and the West to the brink.
This latest development of the coronavirus vaccine, promising only to direct its supply chains to developing countries feeds into this very dangerous chain of events, which is already leading to a trade war and a cold war, and could lead to conflict in th
He also referred to today’s Defence Select Committee inquiry, which will consider among other issues the rise of China and the security of 5G, with US Republican Senator Tom Cotton among those due to give evidence.
In response to an interview with Liu on Sky News yesterday in which he said his country would be willing to share a vaccine, Mr Ellwood tweeted: “I predicted this. China will leverage vaccine rollout to further its global political influence.”
He told Express.co.uk: “This latest development of the coronavirus vaccine, promising only to direct its supply chains to developing countries feeds into this very dangerous chain of events, which is already leading to a trade war and a cold war, and could lead to conflict in the future.”
Mr Ellwood said the development of a vaccine was problematic because any treatment developed by China would therefore come with “strings attached”, with Beijing effectively seeking to “capitalise on the crisis”.
He added: “It’s interesting because Britain is actually hosting a major event tomorrow on vaccine collaboration and China is not participating.
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Tobias Ellwood has issued a warning about China
Liu Xiaoming, China’s UK ambassador
“This is affecting everybody across the world, it is an adversary we are all up against, and the world should be coming together.
“Instead what we are actually seeing, which is very dangerous indeed, is a worrying indication of just how fragile our world actually is.”
During the programme, After the Pandemic, which was screened last night, Liu said: “President Xi made a firm commitment, during a World Health Assembly, that once production is available, China want to make it for the public good, and make it especially accessible and available to developing countries.
“China is now among the most advanced countries in terms of vaccine research and now we are in phase 2, where we have high clinical trial.
Tobias Ellwood’s tweet
“But we want to share with the rest of the world – in fact, China is also working with the UK and with other countries including the United States on the vaccine.”
His comments tie in with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a global strategy adopted by China in 2013 involving infrastructure development and investments in almost 70 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.
Speaking last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said far from derailing the project, the pandemic will “strengthen and reenergise” BRI cooperation.
Senator Tom Cotton will speak to the committee today
The race is on to find a coronavirus vaccine
In a series of remarks which seem to underline Mr Ellwood’s point, he explained: “Indeed COVID-19 has affected Belt and Road cooperation to some extent but the impact is temporary and limited.
“China will actively expand international cooperation on public health, and establish pandemic control mechanisms with more nations.
“There will be more such cooperation along the belt and road.
“The potential of the belt and road comes from constantly opening up new areas of cooperation.
Coronavirus cases worldwide
“After the epidemic, the desire of countries to develop the economy and protect people’s livelihoods will be stronger, and the demand for cooperation in the field of public health will also increase significantly.
“China will work with the countries along the route to vigorously promote the construction of the ‘healthy silk road’.”
Today’s event at the House of Commons, details of which were also tweeted by Mr Ellwood, will also hear from former US Representative Mike Rogers, and retired Brigadier General Robert Spalding.
A Chinese-made coronavirus vaccine could be ready for market as early as the end of this year, China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) said in a social media post last week.
A map of China’s Belt and Road initiative
In trials, more than 2,000 people have received vaccines developed by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and the Beijing Institute of Biological Products.
A vaccine could be ready for the market as early as the end of this year or early 2021, according to the May 29 post on Chinese social media platform WeChat.
Vaccines from the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and the Beijing Institute of Biological Products had entered Phase II clinical trials.
Both groups are affiliated with state-owned pharmaceutical group Sinopharm, whose management is overseen by SASAC.