The Current Tension Between Australia And China: What We Know About COVID-19

Former Australia Prime Minister John Howard called for an independent international probe into the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Current Tension Between Australia And China: What We Know About COVID-19

The diplomatic tensions between Australia and China have escalated further after the former called for an independent international probe into the controversial COVID-19 vaccine's safety. The vaccine was suspended in April 2020 by the Australian government, who cited "the serious response from Chinese authorities" as a reason to withhold it. COVID-19 was developed by Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech, which is owned by Beijing Tiantan Biological Pharmaceuticals. Beijing Tiantan is accused of being "a subsidiary of the Chinese Communist Party". Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison then persona

The Current Tension Between Australia And China

Foreign Minister Marise Payne demanded that Sinovac provide the details about the vaccine's clinical trials and manufacturing process as well as data related to the death of a local girl who reportedly received the vaccine. The girl reportedly died due to complications from meningitis caused by a different strain of the virus. She is reported to have had a "severe reaction" to the meningitis vaccine. Following Morrison's request, Sinovac also admitted that "no controlled trial data" was provided. The company has yet to reply to the request for details of the trial. READ MORE: Australian PM Threatens ‘Criminal Activity' if China Bans Vaccines Morrison believes that the delay in responding is tantamount to Chinese involvement in the trial of the vaccine.

What we know about COVID-19

COVID-19 is a rabies vaccine, but also contains the US live virus infected Vietnamese strain of the rabies virus. It is the same strain which killed two people and was responsible for a third death. The first case was reported in 2021, and the second in 2020. Both of the rabies deaths were caused by the virus. The WHO says the vaccines cannot be made safe. The WHO considers live-virus vaccine a strong source of circulating infections and serious vaccine-preventable disease. A spokesman for the Queensland Health and the Australian Health Minister, Greg Hunt, both said there was not enough information available to ensure public safety. On Friday, Labor Leader Bill Shorten backed the calls for a WHO investigation.

What is the connection between Beijing Tiantan and Sinovac?

Beijing Tiantan and Sinovac Biotech are linked by the Vaccine and Related Biological Products Administration (VRBPAA). The administration is a bureau of the National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People's Republic of China (NHFPC). According to WHO, the NHFPC is responsible for regulating and promoting vaccination of both children and adults in the country. It is worth noting that, on April 9, 2019, China's vice minister of health announced the removal of the Chinese government's regulatory approval on vaccines. This was in response to the "blockade" against the H7N9 influenza virus vaccine.


The crisis with Australia is the latest result of the growing relationship between China and the United States, a similar example could be found with the arrest of Huawei Technologies' CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada. Meng has been arrested after US authorities issued an arrest warrant. Meng is the daughter of the company's founder Ren Zhengfei. US authorities believe Meng is guilty of fraud in relation to charges involving the violation of sanctions against Iran. Consequently, the arrest has deepened US-China ties, following the Trump administration's withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and an increase in Chinese trade tensions. The arrest will have a direct impact on US-China relations, as the most consequential trade talks between the two countries have yet to take place.