President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador said on Sunday that China will send the country a donation of around 150,000 CoronaVac vaccines. The Central American nation has already purchased 2 million doses of the Chinese immunizer and began inoculating citizens in February — mainly using the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The Chinese Embassy in San Salvador said the move strengthened ties of “support and friendship” between the two countries. Some observers, however, fear that the donation will come with strings attached.
Per the U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) think tank, China and Russia are buying themselves goodwill and influence among local leaders — allowing them to reap the plaudits for delivering coronavirus vaccines (Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s CoronaVac) that otherwise would take much longer to arrive.
In late March, Paraguay was reportedly pressured by Chinese officials to cut ties with Taiwan in exchange for vaccines — which Beijing dismisses as “malicious disinformation.” Paraguay is the only South American country that recognizes Taiwan as an official autonomous country.