David Miliband has said Britain should do more to compete with the vaccine programs of autocratic countries. Mr Miliband tells ITV’s Robert Peston that countries like China and Russia were “challenging” them by using their vaccination schemes to gain political capital. China has increased the distribution of its vaccines domestically and abroad in recent months.
Mr Miliband spoke to Robert Peston about the importance of the upcoming G7 summit to be held in Cornwall from 11 June.
The G7 is made up of the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.
Mr Miliband said the group should rally around their shared democratic values amid global vaccine diplomacy.
“We call the Group of Seven,” he said, “that is the grouping of seven major industrial democracies.”
He said it was important that Britain maximize the potential of its vaccine program on the world stage as a counterweight to the power of autocratic countries.
He said: “Because I promise you, the China of this world, the Russia of this world, they are looking at vaccine diplomacy from a geopolitical point of view.
“They are posing a challenge.
“Their challenge is ‘autocracy works better than democracy.’
He added: “Our country is going to be the arsenal of vaccines for the rest of the world.”
Meanwhile, China has ramped up its vaccine program after a slow start, injecting more people in 10 days in May than in the first three months of 2021.
The WHO recently granted emergency authorization for two Chinese vaccines, and China has been active in sharing the vaccines with African countries abroad.
China has said its vaccines and its foreign investments come without political obligations, but has been expanding its global reach and influence in recent years.
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