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China’s Xi won’t accept vaccines despite protests, US official says


WASHINGTON, Dec 3 (Reuters) – Chinese leader Xi Jinping is unwilling to accept Western vaccines despite the challenges China is facing with COVID-19, and although recent protests pose no threat to the regime of the Communist Party, they could affect his personal position, the American Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, said on Saturday.

Although daily COVID cases in China are near record highs, some cities are taking steps to ease testing and quarantine rules after Xi’s zero-COVID policy sparked a sharp economic downturn and public unrest.

Haines, speaking at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in California, said that despite the social and economic impact of the virus, Xi “is unwilling to take a better vaccine from the West, and instead rely on a vaccine in China that just isn’t nearly as effective against Omicron.”

“Seeing the protests and the response to them goes against the narrative he likes to put forward, which is that China is so much more efficient in government,” Haines said.

“This is, again, not something that we see as a threat to stability right now, or regime change or anything like that,” she said, while adding “How this develops will be important for Xi’s position.”

China has not approved any foreign COVID vaccines, opting for domestically produced ones, which some studies have found are not as effective as some foreign vaccines. That means easing virus prevention measures could carry big risks, experts say.

The White House said earlier in the week that China had not requested vaccines from the United States.

A U.S. official told Reuters there was “no expectation at this time” of China approving Western vaccines.

“It seems pretty far-fetched that China is giving the green light to Western vaccines at this point. It’s a matter of national pride, and they’d have to swallow a good chunk of it if they went that route,” the official said. responsible.

Haines also said North Korea recognizes that China is less likely to hold it accountable for what it called an “extraordinary” number of weapons tests in Pyongyang this year.

Amid a record year for missile testing, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said last week that his country aims to have the most powerful nuclear force in the world.

Speaking at a subsequent panel, Admiral John Aquilino, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, said China had no motivation to restrict any country, including North Korea, that was causing problems. in the USA.

“I would say quite differently that it’s in their strategy to address these issues,” Aquilino said of China.

He said China had considerable leverage to pressure North Korea over its weapons tests, but he was not optimistic about Beijing “doing anything useful.” to stabilize the region.

Reporting by Michael Martina, David Brunnstrom, Idrees Ali and Eric Beech; Editing by Sandra Maler

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.




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