The United States triples its vaccine quota for Taiwan with delivery of 2.5 million doses

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The US expedition comes as Washington is working with Taipei to create secure supply chains for strategic items such as computer chips.

A lawmaker from Taiwan’s main opposition Kuomintang party holds placards calling on the government to accept all vaccines and provide free vaccines to all citizens of Taipei on June 4, 2021 (Reuters)

The United States will ship 2.5 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to Taiwan on Saturday, a senior administration official told Reuters.

That figure is more than three times higher than Washington’s previous allocation of fire for the island, which has faced mounting political and military pressure from China.

Washington, competing with Beijing to strengthen its geopolitical influence through “vaccine diplomacy,” initially pledged to donate 750,000 doses to Taiwan, but is increasing that number as President Joe Biden’s administration pledges to send 80 million American-made shots around the world.

China, which sees Taiwan as an integral part of its territory, has repeatedly offered to send vaccines against the coronavirus to the island, which is facing a spike in domestic infections. Taipei has expressed concerns about the safety of Chinese fire.

The 2.5 million donated doses of the Moderna Inc vaccine will depart Memphis, Tennessee, on a flight owned by Taiwanese airline China Airlines early Saturday and arrive in Taipei on Sunday evening, the senior US administration official said, adding that the prompt delivery was due to experts on both sides being able to work on regulatory issues.

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“We do not allocate these doses, or deliver these doses, based on political or economic conditions. We are giving these vaccines for the sole purpose of saving lives,” the official said.

“Our vaccines do not come with conditions,” the official said, adding that Taiwan had “faced unfair challenges in its efforts to acquire vaccines on the global market.”

An agreement with Taiwan to purchase vaccines from German company BioNTech SE failed this year, with the Taiwan government blaming pressure from Beijing.

China has denied the accusation, saying Taiwan is free to obtain the vaccines through Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd, which has a contract to sell BioNTech’s vaccine to China, Hong Kong, Macau, and China. Taiwan.

“We believe that these attempts by China to block purchases, for political purposes, are reprehensible,” said senior administration official Biden.

The de facto U.S. Embassy, ​​the American Institute in Taiwan, later confirmed the delivery.

“The donation reflects our commitment to Taiwan as a trusted friend and member of the international family of democracies,” he said in a statement.

Taiwan is trying to speed up the arrival of millions of vaccines on order, although infections remain relatively low despite an increase in national cases. Only about 6% of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people have received at least one injection of the vaccine.

Secure supply chain

The US shipment comes at a time when Washington is working with Taipei to create secure supply chains for strategic items such as computer chips, of which Taiwan is a key producer, which are vital to US automakers and others. industries.

It also comes after Taiwan announced on Friday that it would allow Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of Foxconn and semiconductor giant TSMC in Taiwan, to negotiate on its behalf for Covid-19 vaccines.

Jonathan Fritz, a senior State Department official, said on Thursday that China had “very aggressively used vaccine donations as leverage to get more of Taiwan’s diplomatic partners to change recognition.”

Beijing has steadily reduced the number of diplomatic allies of Taiwan, which now has just 15 countries.

The United States, which like most countries does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, has observed with concern the escalation of tensions with Beijing and the Biden administration has pledged to strengthen ties with the United States. island, which it is required by US law to provide with the means of defense.

Earlier this week, Taiwan reported the Chinese Air Force’s largest incursion to date, including nuclear-capable fighters and bombers, into its air defense identification zone. The United States gives Covid vaccines to Taiwan after China was accused of meddling.

Source: Reuters

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