SOAS University of London

SOAS China Institute

Chinese Vaccine Diplomacy in Africa - A Global Perspective

Stephen Chan and Steve Itugbu
Various speakers

Date: 8 March 2021Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 8 March 2021Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Webinar



China and Africa have long decades of interaction. The relationship has changed over the years and Chinese outreach to Africa has often been viewed with alarm in the West - itself with a colonial history and a contemporary desire to benefit from African resources and markets. Essentially a trade and investment war has replaced the Cold War. Part of this competition for access and good will now surrounds the COVID pandemic - but the so-called Chinese vaccine diplomacy flatters to deceive. Neither Chinese nor Russian nor Western vaccines will flood Africa any time soon and, one way or another, the continent will lag behind both the West and China in dealing with COVID. Having said that, China has made the early running with logistical preparation for a vaccine rollout. The Sinovac will be welcome, but may not be as efficacious as other vaccines, and may not address the spread of new COVID variants - so, in medical and epidemiogical terms, vaccine diplomacy means in fact far less than it first sounds. Having said that, the vaccine diplomacy is simply a counterpoint of 'vaccine wars' that have swept Europe itself - especially between the UK and EU. In Africa/China terms, this diplomacy is just one further aspect of old rivalries between China and the West - albeit conducted within the crisis of a pandemic - but also may be seen as a genuine Chinese outreach that echoes the nature of an earlier relationship between the two continents.

Event Recording

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Chinese Vaccine Diplomacy in Africa - A Global Perspective

About the speakers

Stephen Chan OBE is Professor of World Politics at SOAS, where he was Foundation Dean of Law and Social Sciences. A former international civil servant, he continues to be involved in diplomatic missions and was a member of the African delegation in the Trilateral Dialogue of the early 2000s, where - under the leadership of the Deputy Chair of the African Union - trade principles were negotiated in Beijing and Washington DC, and in Africa itself. Professor Chan has published 35 scholarly books among other works and has held named Chairs and honorary appointments in many parts of the world.

Steve Itugbu holds a Doctorate degree in Politics and International Studies from SOAS, University of London and also a profound teaching and research experience at the same university at the postgraduate level in Politics and International Studies (POLIS) and Diplomatic Studies.

Apart from his academic research and teaching experience, Itugbu has a weighty work schedule as a Programme and Policy Consultant with W.S. Briefings. His work is focussed on a diverse range of interests, including but not limited to academic/research-related introspection, analysis, debates and dialogues on multiple areas of interests. Several international statesmen and some businesses have participated in these programmes.

In addition to his first book, America’s War on Terror (Athena Press, 2008), Itugbu, in 2017, added another, Foreign Policy and Leadership in Nigeria: Obasanjo and the Challenge of African Diplomacy (I.B. Tauris, London). This was inspired by his time as President Olusegun Obasanjo’s aide; and also a desire to contribute to the understanding of Africa and the myriad of issues related to Africa. In the past few years as research associate with the Centre for African Affairs (CAS), he has also propagated these ideals by representing the centre and SOAS on live interviews with prominent international media such as CNN, Sky News, BBC World Service, Arise News, LBC etc. He is currently a member of the editorial board of the academic journal, Affairs of Statecraft.


This webinar will take place online via Zoom. Click here to register.

* The webinar will also be live-streamed on our Facebook page for those that are unable to participate via Zoom.

Chair: Professor Steve Tsang (Director, SOAS China Institute)

Organiser: SOAS China Institute and SOAS Centre of African Studies

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