BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s foreign ministry said Beijing is willing to deepen cooperation with Brazil in COVID-19 vaccines, after the chief executive of Sinovac, a major vaccine supplier, said anti-China comments in Brasilia didn’t help with shipments.
During a meeting with Brazilian diplomats in Beijing last month, Sinovac Biotech CEO Yin Weidong said a change of attitude in Brasilia would be “convenient” for more “fluid and positive” relations with the Chinese government, according to two people familiar with the matter.
In a written response to Reuters on Friday, the Chinese foreign ministry said it was not aware of the Sinovac CEO’s reported comment, but stressed that “China firmly opposes any words or actions that politicize the pandemic”.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s government has denied taking an antagonistic stance towards China, which is Brazil’s biggest trade partner.
However, Dimas Covas, the head of Butantan, which is Sinovac’s partner in Brazil, had testified in a senate commission of inquiry that Bolsonaro’s remarks are to blame for delayed imports of vaccine ingredients from China.
Sinovac did not respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Giles Elgood)