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COVID vaccines

Pharmacy of the world: China's quest to be the No. 1 drugmaker

How policy, people and cash are driving growth -- and sparking a backlash

Policy, people and plenty of money have driven China's pharmaceutical expansion.

TOKYO -- In China, startup companies in the field of drug discovery are emerging one after another, dovetailing with a push by the administration of President Xi Jinping to advance China's pharmaceutical industry.

Now a country long known for producing generics and active pharmaceutical ingredients -- the raw materials for precursors -- has also begun to discover new drugs. In particular, it has seen strong growth in biological pharmaceuticals, or biologics, which are considered more difficult to produce than ordinary drugs.

China's pharmaceutical market is already the second-biggest in the world, after the U.S., thanks in large part to domestic demand from hospitals. Now Beijing wants to take the final step and surpass the U.S. However, its methods have prompted significant criticism, from questions over quality to suspicions of intellectual property theft.

In part one of this series, Nikkei Asia explored how China became the top global supplier of COVID-19 vaccines. This second part looks at how the jab gambit is part of a broader effort to dominate the international drug market. Explore the full story here.

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