China, the U.S. and Developing Countries News Roundup: March 15-26, 2021

Chinese and U.S. Engagement with Developing Countries News Roundup: March 15th-26th 

Every two weeks, The Carter Center’s China Program releases an overview of major events involving Chinese and U.S. global engagement, with a particular focus on emerging issues in Africa and Latin America. In addition to using news sources, the news roundup analyzes papers and reports from academic journals, governmental bodies, and NGOs, and also summarizes debates and other events organized by think tanks on select issues. The news roundup is intended to be a platform and resource for both China watchers and readers interested in political and economic development in developing countries. It aims to deepen the understanding of China’s foreign policy, and emerging issues and trends in developing countries, as well as to enhance the prospect of multinational cooperation among China, the U.S., Africa and Latin America. 

Has China kept its promise to distribute vaccines to developing countries? Which countries are on board with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and which are more skeptical? What are the top foreign policy goals of China’s top diplomat? What is the current state of China’s relationship with Zambia? Learn the answers to these questions and more in this edition of the news roundup.

This issue is edited by Kathryn Putz.

News Articles

Countries in China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Who’s In and Who’s Out

(Council on Foreign Relations, 24 March, 2021)

China’s Belt and Road (BRI) has a wide reach, but which countries are participants? The answer is surprisingly hard to determine, since China is opaque about the exact contours of BRI and there are different levels of participation in the initiative. But our CFR Independent Task Force Report outlines what we were able to discover about the participating countries in BRI.

China Looks to Developing World as US Stages Global Comeback

(South China Morning Post, 8 March, 2021)

As US President Joe Biden seeks to return his country to the global center stage, China’s top diplomat has signalled in his annual press conference Beijing’s desire to counter Washington by establishing its own sphere of influence in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Developing Nations Seek Alternatives After India Restricts Covid-19 Vaccine Exports

(The Wall Street Journal, 26 March, 2021)

Developing countries scrambled to keep their Covid-19 vaccinations on track Friday after India—a critical supplier to a United Nations-backed and Western-funded vaccine campaign–temporarily restricted exports. The new vaccine limits by India, which is dealing with a resurgence of cases at home, intensified an already frenetic global race to secure vaccine doses, and could leave developing countries more dependent on China or Russia for their immunizations.

Doubt Overshadows China’s Pledge to Vaccinate Developing Countries

(Financial Times, 23 March, 2021)

Beijing has happily propagated the notion that China is leading the campaign to inoculate developing countries against coronavirus by donating its jabs while richer nations squabble over vaccine supplies. But in recent weeks, China’s role in the global vaccination drive has been overshadowed by concerns over supplies, high prices and unexplained instances of low immunity.


The Politics of China’s Vaccine Donation in Africa

(China in Africa Podcast, 24 March, 2021)

The Chinese government insists that politics play no part in its rapidly expanding global vaccine distribution campaign. But when you look at the maps as to where Chinese vaccine sales and donations are heaviest, it just so happens to be in regions that are among the most strategically important to Beijing: Southeast Asia, the Persian Gulf, and South America. 

Update on the Current State of China-Zambia Relations

(China in Africa Podcast, 19 March, 2021)

The recent visit to Zambia by China’s top foreign policy official Yang Jiechi highlights the outsized importance Lusaka plays in Beijing’s broader Africa strategy. Relations between the countries are among China’s oldest on the continent, dating back to the anti-colonial struggles of the 1960s. Today, ideology has given way to economics. Zambia is a key supplier of copper and iron ore while China is Lusaka’s largest bilateral creditor. 

A New Era in China’s International Development Cooperation: A Conversation with Stella Hong Zhang 

(China Power Podcast (CSIS), 16 March, 2021)

In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Stella Hong Zhang joins us to discuss China’s new model of international development cooperation. Ms. Zhang analyzes China’s January 2021 white paper titled “China’s International Development Cooperation in the New Era,” the shift in China’s international development policy, and the implications that this shift has for both China and other nations around the world. She argues that the policy changes reflect China’s goal to be seen as a leader in global governance and its aim to shape discourse on China’s domestic governance model and development achievements. Lastly, Ms. Zhang explains that China’s decision to frame its international development cooperation policy in moral language plays strongly to a domestic audience that is skeptical of providing resources to other countries while China itself is still developing.

China and Myanmar after the 2021 Myanmar Coup: A Conversation with Derek Mitchell

(China Power Podcast (CSIS), 2 March, 2021)

In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Ambassador Derek Mitchell joins us to discuss the implications of the 2021 Myanmar coup for China-Myanmar relations. Ambassador Mitchell analyzes the current state of China-Myanmar relations, describes its historical development, and outlines China’s interests within the region after the coup. He argues that while China faces widespread public antagonism amongst the population in Myanmar, it still commands significant influence due to the investments that it has made in Myanmar as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as its continued association with communist groups in northeastern Myanmar. Nonetheless, Ambassador Mitchell contends that Myanmar is not without leverage when it comes to interacting with China, as it can make use of its relations with Japan, Europe, the United States, and even Russia to prevent China from developing a monopolizing influence.