(FiveNation.com)- On Friday, President Biden participated in a virtual summit with leaders of Asian Pacific nations to discuss global pandemic response as well as stepping up COVID-19 vaccine sharing.
In addition to President Biden, the virtual retreat for “Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation” included Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The event was hosted by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
In a pre-recorded message, President Xi told the leaders that Beijing would spend $3 billion over the next three years to help poorer countries respond to COVID-19. China also claims it has provided more than 500 million vaccine doses to developing nations.
The Biden Administration fell short of its goal of providing 80 million doses to the rest of the world by the end of June – mostly due to logistical and regulatory hurdles that have slowed the pace of US efforts.
During the meeting, Biden assured the leaders that he was committed to delivering more than 500 million vaccine doses to countries around the world. In a statement, the White House said Biden made it clear to the attendees that the US is donating, not selling, the vaccines, and he emphasized the importance of “not attaching any political or economic conditions” to their delivery.
The nation of Taiwan has accused China of tying delivery of COVID vaccines to political demands.
In the virtual meeting, leaders pledged to move forward on action to lower tariffs that obstruct movement of vaccines across borders.
Initially, President Biden had planned to talk about his efforts to serve “as an arsenal of vaccines to the world.” Whether or not he did is unclear as this meeting was not a public event, and all detail from it comes from official statements.
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation nations lost over 80 million jobs during the COVID pandemic due to unwise lockdowns and restrictions imposed on their countries.
The Biden Administration has made much about prioritizing its relationship with allies in the Pacific. Though, the most important relationship Biden has in the region is not a US ally, but China.