The Geopolitics of COVID-19 Vaccine Diplomacy in Southeast Asia


About the Webinar

As Southeast Asian countries ramp up massive inoculations to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, securing sufficient vaccine doses in a timely manner has become their top priority. The ongoing global supply crunch has made COVID-19 vaccines an important strategic commodity. At this, Southeast Asia has become a priority region for COVID-19 vaccine support by China, the US and Japan. China’s vaccine outreach in the region is helped by its first-mover advantage and regular supplies. But this advantage is diminishing as the US and Japan have stepped up their vaccine assistance in the past few months. How does geopolitics factor in their vaccine diplomacy towards Southeast Asia? Do they prioritise their vaccine support through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility or do they prefer bilateral channels? What is the relationship between the supplying companies and their governments, and to what extent do their interests coincide or collide? What are the Southeast Asian countries that have benefited the most? Would vaccine diplomacy translate into sustained soft power or would their geopolitical dividends be short-lived?

About the Speakers

Yanzhong Huang is Senior Fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations in the US. He is also Professor and Director of global health studies at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations, where he developed the first academic concentration among US professional schools of international affairs that addresses the security and foreign policy aspects of health issues. He is the founding editor of Global Health Governance: The Scholarly Journal for the New Health Security Paradigm. He is the author of Governing Health in Contemporary China (2013) and Toxic Politics: China’s Environmental Health Crisis and its Challenge to the Chinese State (2020). He has testified before congressional committees and is regularly consulted on global health issues and China.

Gregory B. Poling is Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia and Director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C., the US. His research interests include the South China Sea disputes, democratisation in Southeast Asia, and Asian multilateralism. He is the author or co-author of multiple works, including The Thickening Web of Asian Security Cooperation: Deepening Defense Ties Among U.S. Allies and Partners in the Indo-Pacific (RAND Corporation, 2019).

Stephen Nagy is Senior Associate Professor at the International Christian University in Tokyo, Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI), and Visiting Fellow with the Japan Institute for International Affairs (JIIA). His recent funded research projects include Sino-Japanese Relations in the Wake of the 2012 Territorial Disputes: Investigating Changes in Japanese Business’ Trade and Investment Strategy in China, and Perceptions and Drivers of Chinese View on Japanese and US Foreign Policy in the Region. He is currently working on middle power approaches to great power competition in the Indo-Pacific.


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Aug 27 2021


9:30 am - 11:00 am