Sun. Jun 20th, 2021

Inside a gray warehouse at the Shenzhen International Airport in southern China, a row of white chambers sits in a cordoned-off corner, each fitted with a display screen showing the customized temperature inside.

A security worker in face mask, surgical gown and rubber gloves stands guard. Anyone entering this part of the warehouse has to either complete two weeks of quarantine or wear a head-to-toe hazmat suit.

These climate-controlled rooms, totaling an area of 350 square meters (3,767 square feet), are soon to be filled by rows and rows of Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccines — after they receive approval from the country’s drug regulators. From there, they’ll be loaded onto temperature-controlled compartments of cargo jets and flown to continents around the world.

The climate-controlled chambers at Shenzhen’s international airport will soon be filled with Chinese-made coronavirus vaccines.

The climate-controlled chambers at Shenzhen’s international airport will soon be filled with Chinese-made coronavirus vaccines.

In the coming months, China will be sending hundreds of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines to countries that have conducted last-stage trials for its leading candidates. Chinese leaders have also promised a growing list of developing countries priority access to its successful vaccines.

This global campaign presents China an opportunity to repair its image, which was damaged for its initial mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak — rather than being blamed for the primary spread of the virus it can potentially be esteemed for helping to bring an end to the pandemic.

The vaccines can also be used by Beijing as “an instrument for foreign policy to promote soft power and project international influence,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations.

Earlier in the pandemic, China’s efforts to curry favor by donating masks and other supplies to countries hit hard by the virus were tarnished by reports of poor quality supplies, and accusations that Beijing was launching a disinformation campaign to change the coronavirus narrative.

Beijing’s vaccine diplomacy, Huang said, could give it another chance.

(CNN)

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