Vaccine distribution is becoming a key strategic feature of China’s foreign relations. But critics have suggested that China’s so-called ‘vaccine diplomacy’ is merely a way to further entrench its presence in countries where it seeks diplomatic and economic influence and supplant its Western rivals.
Against the backdrop of rising Western scepticism about China's presence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, media now portrays Beijing vaccine diplomacy as highly politicized. While undeniable that Beijing’s vaccine diplomacy bolsters its soft power and consolidates its influence, these narratives stifle positive responses from MENA countries towards China’s vaccine cooperation.
China’s vaccine diplomacy in MENA aligns with its broader strategy to cast itself as a global health leader.… Seguir leyendo »
Algeria’s lowest poll turnout in its history — with no more than 23.7% of Algerians voting on the proposed new constitution — shows the country still faces serious political stalemate more than one year after the Hirak, the pro-democracy movement which galvanised millions of Algerians and was only brought to a halt by the pandemic.
Only 13.7% out of the country’s 24.47 million registered voters supported the new constitution, with the rest either rejecting it or casting invalid votes. But with no minimum turnout required, the constitutional changes have been approved, further deepening the regime’s legitimacy crisis.
Despite much fanfare about the importance of the amended constitution — which the regime claimed would usher in a ‘new Algeria’ — citizens have forcefully expressed their rejection by a massive boycott of a referendum seen by many as merely a manoeuvre to extend the life of an authoritarian and corrupt system.… Seguir leyendo »
North Africa is expected to become home to some massive infrastructural projects, including Morocco’s Tangier Med Port and Egypt’s new administrative capital, after all of the countries in the region signed up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). While much has been written about the physical infrastructure under the BRI umbrella, China’s ambition to extend its digital footprint in North Africa has received far less attention despite the significant economic, political and strategic implications.
At the first BRI forum in May 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that big data would be integrated into the BRI to create the ‘Digital Silk Road of the 21st century’.… Seguir leyendo »