Beijing has lashed out at Washington over President Joe Biden's recent pledge to donate millions of COVID-19 vaccines to other countries.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian argued that "it is despicable that the US makes an issue out of China whenever the topic of vaccines is brought up".
The spokesman asserted that "it sets people wondering about the US' true intention and motives", stressing that "unlike the US, China will not use vaccines to influence or lead the world".
He promised that China would not indulge "in empty talk while not taking any concrete actions".
According to Zhao, "China has only one goal: We want to do our best to help developing countries save more lives […]. Our assistance comes with no geopolitical agenda or political strings. We will do our utmost to let people breathe because every life matters, regardless of his or her nationality and race".
He spoke after President Biden unveiled his administration's plans to donate an additional 20 million coronavirus vaccine doses abroad, adding to the 60 million shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine initially pledged, in a move that POTUS claimed comes as the US vaccination programme "has led the world". According to him, nearly 60 percent of US adults have already received at least one shot.
Earlier, a whole host of European countries suspended the use of AstraZeneca shots due to reported blood clotting-related side effects.
Referring to 80 million vaccine doses, Biden argued that "this will be more vaccines than any country has actually shared to date, five times more".
"More than Russia and China, which have donated 15 million doses. We will share these vaccines in the service of ending the pandemic everywhere. And we will not use our vaccines to secure favours from other countries", the US president said.
Chinese, Russian Vaccination Programmes
China has so far produced five COVID-19 vaccines, including Sinopharm and Sinovac that have been shipped overseas in millions of doses.
Beijing has negotiated with 67 nations on every inhabited continent to sell or give them vaccine doses, also working with the World Health Organisation to provide Sinopharm and Sinovac shots for the COVAX programme. COVAX aims to provide shots to some of the world's poorest nations to ensure immunisation even if they cannot pay for the vaccines.
Earlier in May, China's COVID-19 vaccination programme hit full speed, reaching the goal of 10 million shots per day.
Russia was the first country in the world to register a coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, with two other vaccines (EpiVacCorona and CoviVac) following later. The use of Sputnik V has already been authorised in at least 57 countries across the globe.