CHINESE GOVERNMENT ALONE IN ARRANGING VACCINATIONS FOR THEIR CITIZENS IN THAILAND
Chinese citizens living in Thailand are now being vaccinated as part of China’s global campaign to inoculate its nationals living and working abroad. China recently donated 500,000 vaccine doses, and Thailand agreed in turn to inoculate Chinese nationals as it slowly rolls out shots for its own citizens to contain a coronavirus surge that has sickened tens of thousands in the past two months.
This response to the needs of Chinese citizens in Thailand is in stark contrast to other nations with no such deal being struck and with their citizens dependent on the goodwill of the Thai government, with most remaining uncertain when a vaccination will be available.
Groups representing Americans living in Thailand have sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking the government to supply some of the millions of unused vaccine doses available in the U.S. to inoculate American citizens in Thailand. A spokesperson of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok had said that the State Department does not provide direct medical care to private citizens abroad.
That comment echoes a recent response from the Australian Embassy. “The Australian Embassy won’t be involved in delivering vaccines to Australians in Thailand. Australians here “(Thailand) and in other countries around the world may be covered by the vaccine rollout program in their current location.”
The Australian government has given Thailand 68 million baht to support Thailand’s vaccine program and to help Thailand vaccinate the country faster but without consideration of the needs of Australian citizens here.
Yang Xin, minister counsellor at the Chinese Embassy, said Beijing’s “Spring Sprout” program would benefit tens of thousands of Chinese in the country. An estimated 150,000 Chinese citizens live in Thailand.
China has so far supplied 6 million vaccine doses to the country, most of which Thailand purchased.
China’s official People’s Daily newspaper says more than 500,000 Chinese citizens in more than 120 countries have benefited from the “Spring Sprout” vaccine program since it was launched in March.
I am happy and proud to be able to get a vaccine on day 1 organised by my government,” said Zhang Xiaohong, 40, who runs a logistics company in Thailand. He said he believes the Chinese government cares about its people.
Qin Qing, a 39-year-old real estate broker in Bangkok, said she was a bit nervous before getting the shot and felt slightly dizzy afterward.
“I am grateful for my country and the embassy, and people who help to make it happen, from airline staff who fly the vaccines here to Thai medical workers,” she said.
Chinese nationals are the most numerous foreigners living in Thailand who are not from neighboring countries. They are the only foreigners being vaccinated under the “Spring Sprout” campaign.
Another 200,000 foreigners — from Australia, Japan, Europe, the United States and elsewhere — are mostly professionals and retirees. For now, they can only obtain COVID-19 shots by traveling overseas and would face lengthy, expensive quarantines on their return.