Latin America

Paraguay feels the sting of China’s vaccine diplomacy

Sinopharm offered to sell 1 million jabs to the landlocked country, but the deal came with diplomatic strings attached. When Paraguay failed to hold up its end of the bargain, the deal was canceled

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (right) and her Paraguayan counterpart, Mario Abdo Benítez during a 2018 meeting in Taipei. Photo: Taiwan Presidential Bureau
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (right) and her Paraguayan counterpart, Mario Abdo Benítez during a 2018 meeting in Taipei. Photo: Taiwan Presidential Bureau

It is no secret that Covid-19 vaccine distribution is inextricably linked to diplomacy. The latest example of this comes from Paraguay, where the drawn-out dispute between China and Taiwan seems to have claimed an unexpected victim. 

On July 31, Paraguay’s Health Minister Julio Borba announced that Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical firm Sinopharm had unilaterally canceled a contract to sell 1 million jabs to the South American nation. “You’ll have to speak to the Foreign Ministry to find out why,” Mr. Borba told the local press. “Because from a public health perspective I’ve got no answers.” 

Indeed, a cursory glance...

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