BEIJING: China announced on Friday that it will provide Pakistan a “batch” of coronavirus vaccine as aid.
“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,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying during a briefing on Friday.
The spokesperson shared that the Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi had informed Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi of the decision made by the Chinese government.
Hua said Islamabad and Beijing are “all-weather strategic cooperative partner”. She added that both countries also had a “fine tradition of mutual support and assistance”.
“One can always count on a ready helping hand from the other in times of need,” said the Chinese official. She said that China and Pakistan have been working together to overcome difficulties since the outbreak of the pandemic.
The spokesperson also reminded the reporters that this year both the countries will be observing the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.
“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,” said Hua.
Pakistan to get first shipment of Chinese vaccine by Jan 31
On Thursday, the foreign minister had said that Pakistan is expected to receive the first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine from China by January 31, 2021.
“Pakistan held fruitful talks with China with regard to obtaining the coronavirus vaccine,” Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a media briefing in the federal capital, praising the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) for doing a “great job during the pandemic”.
“I had a lengthy discussion and spoke of Pakistan’s requirements. Then, Prime Minister Imran Khan advised me to engage in further interaction with them [China] keeping in mind the sensitive situation, time, and Pakistan’s requirements.
“I’m glad to tell you that I had a telephonic conversation with Chinese foreign minister. I wish to give this happy news to the nation that China has promised that, God-willing, it will send Pakistan 500,000 doses of the [coronavirus] vaccine by January 31,” he said, adding that it was an act of “good faith” and that Beijing planned to send more by February 2021.
Pakistan needs ‘additional 1.1m doses’
The foreign minister lauded the COVID-19 patients for their courage in the fight against the deadly virus. “Pakistan successfully fought the coronavirus [pandemic],” he added.
China, Qureshi added, directed Pakistan to “send them our plane and airlift the vaccine; this is good news, a positive development”.
He said he expressed gratitude to Beijing and “informed them that our requirements are more than that [500,000 doses]; we need an additional 1.1 million doses”.