Merkel Calls for Deeper Cooperation With China on Covid Vaccines

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germany and China to join forces to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and raised the prospect of deeper cooperation on Covid-19 vaccines.

In her opening remarks during virtual talks Wednesday with her Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang, Merkel said the two nations should “speak openly and transparently about vaccine production.”

“And, if possible, also mutually recognize vaccines,” she said, adding that this should take place under the auspices of the World Health Organization.

“We can only contain this pandemic together,” Merkel said. “China and Germany can play an important role in this.”

There has been some evidence that China’s Covid-19 vaccines are less effective than rivals from other countries, raising questions for nations from Brazil to Hungary that are depending on the shots as well as about the country’s own inoculation drive.

While vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc., as well as Russia’s Sputnik V shot, have delivered protection rates of more than 90%, Chinese candidates have generally reported much lower efficacy results.

Germany’s BioNTech SE said Wednesday it expected to be granted Chinese approval for the Covid shot it jointly developed with Pfizer by July.

Li acknowledged in his opening statement that China and Germany have “different views on some issues,” while urging Berlin to respect Beijing’s core interests, treat it equally and not interfere in its internal affairs, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

He said he hopes the two nations can “eliminate unnecessary distractions” so that they can maintain “healthy and stable” bilateral ties.

Merkel briefly addressed the issue of human rights in China in her remarks, saying that there are differences of opinion particularly over Hong Kong.

“I would like us to get the human rights dialogue going again as soon as possible,” she said, adding that the German and Chinese justice ministers should discuss them “in depth.” As well as Merkel and Li, many of their cabinet ministers are also taking part in Wednesday’s discussions.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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