How to sell Chinese vaccines?
The author is a Washington correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
When I was in college, I ran into a peddler selling health supplements on the subway. The peddler insisted that the product was such a good value that I would be a bad child if I didn’t buy it for my parents. I still remember the unpleasant experience.
I had a similar feeling reading an article on the Diplomat recently. It was written by a Chinese scholar who had worked in Korea, and the title was “Why Isn’t South Korea Buying Chinese Vaccines?” The Korean government did not secure sufficient Covid-19 vaccines but is only seeking supplies from the United States, he said. The writer criticized the Korean government for not accepting Chinese vaccines, claiming that it has long been supplied to many countries and has proven its safety and effectiveness. He also vented that Korea, a neighbor of China, still distrusts Chinese vaccines while Chinese people have made a great stride in fighting against the Covid-19.
He also picked on Korea’s diplomatic stance. “South Korea, as a middle power, still habitually places itself in the narrow geopolitical middle ground between the United States and China, and is unwilling to take bolder steps.”
He concluded that ordinary Koreans suffer from the politicization of vaccines while “living under dark clouds.”
Of course, it may be the opinion of the individual author. But Chinese authorities’ recent response to Taiwan, which does not take Chinese vaccines like Korea, is quite similar. According to Xinhua News Agency, Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said that China was very worried about the life and health of the Taiwanese people, urging Taipei to change the stance of politicizing the vaccine issue and remove obstacles on importing the Chinese vaccines.
China may feel hurt that other countries are not willing to use its vaccine that has received emergency approval from the WHO. But Beijing seems to have forgotten that consumers have little trust in China’s vaccine and suspicions surrounding the origin of Covid-19 still remain unsolved.
As China supplies its vaccines to African and Southeast Asian countries, it emphasized its “humanitarianism.” If it is really out of humanitarian goodwill, China should wait until the recipient is willing to take it. Blaming the customer for not buying the product will make it harder to sell, as I experienced in my college days.