China and The Global Search for Health Security: History, Vaccines, and Governance

March 24 , 2021 04:31 PM by ZHA Daojiong

[Author] ZHA Daojiong, Advisor of iGCU, Peking University; Professor of School of International Studies, Peking University

[Abstract] China is a key player, not just an actor, in the global search for health security. Reit- eration of this point is useful for International Relations studies, which often portray China as a factor to contend with, especially given the background of the country as the first to report the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper adopts an analytical framework developed through a summary of routines in Chinese engagement in global health from a practitioner’s perspective: aid, interdependence, governance and knowledge. These are the core elements in a country’s pursuit of engagement with the rest of the world. After the introduction, the second section of the paper reviews contributions from China in the history of global plague control over the past century. The third section discusses structural issues affecting access to vaccines, which are essential for bringing COVID-19 under effective control. The fourth section identifies a number of challenges China is facing in global health governance. The final section offers a few concluding thoughts, reiterating the nature of interdependence in the global search for enhancement of health security.

[Key words] COVID-19 · China’s history of influenza pandemics · Public health · Access to vaccines · International relations