Vaccine cooperation improves Malaysians’ perception of China

It is anticipated that post-pandemic, there will be improved political and trade relations between the 2 countries

by S BIRRUNTHA / pic source: Sinovac Biotech

MALAYSIA and China’s vaccine cooperation has improved Malaysians’ perception of the latter in general and of the Chinese companies in the country specifically, according to the 2021 Malaysia-China Relations Survey Report.

UCSI Poll Research Centre CEO Assoc Prof Dr Eugene Pek Chuen Khee said that the survey revealed that Malaysians have placed equal importance on increasing the supply of vaccines from China, and the development of Malaysia as a vaccine manufacturing country and a research and development hub for vaccines.

He noted that the survey’s respondents anticipated that post-pandemic, there will be greater trade and economic cooperation between Malaysia and China as well as improved political and trade relations between the two countries.

“More than 60% of the respondents indicated that their perception of China in general and of the Chinese companies in Malaysia has improved after the China-Malaysia vaccine cooperation.

“A large majority of the respondents or 75.2% felt that post-pandemic, there will be improved collaboration opportunities between Malaysia and China, and Malaysia will attract more investment from China,” he said while presenting the report in a virtual press conference yesterday.

Additionally, Pek said the survey indicates that going forward, Malaysians will welcome more investment from China in e-commerce, infrastructure, tourism and electronic product manufacturing.

On Malaysia-China vaccine cooperation, he said the survey shows that there is no clear indication of preference for China-made vaccines over other vaccines.

He added that large supply and more affordable price are deemed to be the main advantages of China-made vaccines compared to vaccines of other countries.

He also noted that the acceptance level of China-made vaccines in Malaysia varies with ethnicity and region. However, the acceptance level was seen as the highest among Chinese (42.5%) and in the southern region (45%).

Commenting further, Pek emphasised that Malaysia and China have a long and cordial relationship with close economic ties.

“Upon successfully containing the spread of the virus, China was quick in providing assistance to Malaysia in the fight against Covid-19 by sharing its experience and expertise and supplying the much-needed personal protective equipment.

“In fact, Malaysia was on the priority list of countries to receive donation and supply of Chinese vaccines,” he said.

Therefore, Pek said that the objective of the survey was to understand the acceptance level of China-made vaccines by Malaysians, the collaboration, as well as other factors that have influenced the perception of Malaysians regarding the relations between the two countries.

The survey is a joint project of the Centre for New Inclusive Asia and the China-Asean Research Institute of Guangxi University and conducted by the UCSI Poll Research Centre.

It was conducted online across Malaysia and the sample was stratified based on region (central, northern, southern, east coast, and east Malaysia) and socio-demographics (ethnicity, gender and age group).

A total of 1,667 respondents participated in the online survey which was conducted from July 30 to Sept 22 this year.

Previously, Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said that China will contribute another one million doses of the Sinovac vaccine to Malaysia soon to strengthen health diplomacy between the two countries further.

He noted that China had donated 28 million doses of Sinovac vaccine to Asean countries so far, and 500,000 were donated to Malaysia.

On top of additional vaccines, China will also cooperate with Asean in public health and pharmaceutical capabilities through the sharing of technology, expertise and intellectual property.

This is expected to help Asean strengthen its public health system and increase preparedness to address future health emergencies.