China says it's ready to provide vaccines to overseas Chinese, Olympians

China, which has developed several vaccines domestically, will host the Winter Olympics in February 2022

  
Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi is displayed on a screen as he attends via video link a news conference on the sidelines of the National People's Congress (NPC), in Beijing, China March 7, 2021.

Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi is displayed on a screen as he attends via video link a news conference on the sidelines of the National People's Congress (NPC), in Beijing, China March 7, 2021.

Reuters/Thomas Peter

BEIJING - China said on Sunday it has plans to set up COVID-19 vaccination stations to vaccinate Chinese citizens abroad and is also ready to work with the International Olympic Committee to help provide vaccines to Olympic athletes for upcoming events.

China has developed several vaccines domestically and has begun its own vaccination drive, with plans to vaccinate 40% of its population by July.

China's top government diplomat Wang Yi made the comments during his annual news conference held on Sunday.

"We are preparing to set up regional vaccination sites for domestically produced vaccines in countries where conditions permit, to provide services to compatriots in need in neighbouring countries," said Wang.

He said some Chinese citizens were already receiving Chinese-made vaccines abroad according to local law.

He said China would also make vaccines available to Olympians, and is open to discussions on mutually recognising vaccines with other countries, but did not offer specifics.

China is set to hold the 2022 Winter Olympics next year, while the Summer Olympics are scheduled to take place in Japan later this year.

China has said it plans to provide 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to global vaccine sharing scheme COVAX. Vaccines from Chinese firms are already being offered in several countries, including Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

During Sunday's news conference, Wang also spoke against "vaccine nationalism", and said China would resist any attempt to politicise vaccine cooperation.

Beijing has repeatedly called into question the idea that the new coronavirus originated in China, and has embarked upon a vaccine diplomacy campaign to send Chinese-developed shots against COVID-19 around the world.

China has denied exploiting the fight against COVID-19 to boost its global influence.

President Xi Jinping has pledged to make China's vaccines a "global public good."

(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Writing by Cate Cadell and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Christopher Cushing) ((Cate.Cadell@thomsonreuters.com; +8618510722863;))

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