Washington (Reuters) – Despite the difficulties China is having with Covid, Chinese President Xi Jinping is loath to embrace Western vaccinations, and while recent demonstrations there do not pose a danger to Communist Party control, they may have an impact on his personal standing, according to US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on Saturday.
Although China’s daily Covid cases are close to all-time highs, some cities are taking action to relax testing and quarantine requirements after Xi’s zero-Covid policy sparked a severe economic slowdown and widespread unrest.
Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California, Haines claimed that despite the virus’s negative social and economic effects, Xi “is refusing to take a stronger vaccination from the West and is instead depending on a vaccine in China that’s just not nearly as powerful against Omicron.”
“Seeing protests and the response to it is challenging the narrative he tries to put out, which is that China is so much more successful at governing,” Haines said.
In addition, she added, “How it develops will be significant to Xi’s standing. It’s again not something we regard as being a danger to stability at this point, or regime change, or anything like that.
China chose to use domestically made Covid vaccinations instead of any imported ones, which some studies have shown may not be as effective. Thus, experts warn that loosening virus prevention measures could carry significant risks.
China has not requested immunizations from the United States, according to a statement made by the White House earlier in the week.
There is now “no anticipation” that China will accept western vaccinations, a US official told Reuters.
“China approving Western vaccinations at this time appears improbable. If they chose this course, they would have to swallow a lot of national pride “the representative stated.
Haines said that North Korea understood that China was less likely to hold it responsible for what she called Pyongyang’s “unprecedented” number of nuclear tests this year.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared last week that his nation intends to have the most potent nuclear force in the world amid a record-breaking year for missile tests.
Admiral John Aquilino, the head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, said China had no incentive to constrain any nation, including North Korea, that was causing issues for the US, during a subsequent panel discussion.
Aquilino said of China, “I’d argue very differently that it’s in their goal to generate those difficulties.”
He claimed China had significant influence over North Korea regarding its weapons tests, but he expressed pessimism about Beijing “doing anything helpful to stabilize the region.”