China is positioning itself as a global leader in the fight against COVID-19, pledging to offer loans and priority access for its potential coronavirus vaccines.

China has come under fire in recent months for allegedly hiding the truth about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan in early January. Despite that, China has pledged to play an active role in countering the pandemic.

In May, Chinese president Xi Jinping said that if successful, the coronavirus vaccines being developed by China would be a “global public good.” Jinping said China would offer developing countries access to its vaccines while providing doses for its population of 1.4 billion. Chinese diplomates have cited in recent weeks that Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Philippines would be among the first to benefit from successful China-made coronavirus vaccines.

In a separate statement, foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying also assured that China would address manufacturing constraints that could result in shortages of coronavirus vaccines. “China will not act like some countries and seek a monopoly or buy out vaccines,” he said.

Richer countries like Japan, Britain, and the United States have already inked deals with drug makers around the world for early doses of the coronavirus vaccine for their citizens. This race is seen to result in supply shortages for any approved coronavirus vaccine in the future.

In June, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi also offered US1$ billion in loans for Latin American and Caribbean countries to purchase potential coronavirus vaccines. That same month, Xi promised that African countries would get priority access to China’s vaccines as soon as the development and deployment of a COVID-19 vaccine is completed in the country.

Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, said China’s “vaccine diplomacy” push will help the country boost its international standing. “If China plays vaccine diplomacy this is going to help project China’s soft power and help China to revitalize the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said, referring to China’s flagship global infrastructure project.

Chinese president Xi Jinping Chinese president Xi Jinping Reuters