Under its “Health Silk Road” programme, Beijing is supplying COVID-19 vaccines to over 80 countries, particularly in the developing world, many of which are members and supporters of the Belt and Road Initiative. While efforts to counter the virus are welcomed, the vaccines in question are largely untried and unapproved. Furthermore, while China has indeed donated vaccines to a few countries, the majority have had to purchase their supplies, in some instances using loans offered by Beijing to do so.
Now serving a 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court, the imprisonment of disgraced former president Jacob Zuma has triggered protests and opportunistic looting while perpetuating the division within the African National Congress government between his supporters and those loyal to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Having suffered a political lockdown since August 2019, followed by a Covid-19 lockdown from March this year, in the guise of returning “normality” to the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory, the Modi Government has launched an economic snapshot and vision statement to 2030. One indication of Kashmir’s future may be the appointment as Lieutenant-Governor of Manoj Sinha, a close acquaintance of Modi’s and a strong proponent of Hinduisation values.
President Biden may well succeed in forging an Israeli-Palestinian peace by restating in the strongest terms that a two-state solution remains the only viable option and working to create the conditions on the ground to that end.
While the G7’s “Build Back Better World” (B3W) offers an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, it remains a nascent proposition that may not suit every government, especially not the more authoritarian ones.