The United States government plans to donate 750,000 doses of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine to Taiwan, a delegation of U.S. senators visiting Taipei announced on Sunday.
U.S. senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Christopher Coons (D-DE), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) announced the planned vaccine donation on June 6 shortly after arriving in Taipei for a brief visit with senior Taiwan government officials.
“It was critical to the United States that Taiwan be included in the first group to receive vaccines because we recognize your urgent need and we value this partnership,” Sen. Duckworth said at a press conference at Taipei Songshan Airport, as quoted by Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA).
Washington will send the vaccines to Taiwan as part of its global coronavirus vaccine sharing plan, which will see the U.S. donate “at least 80 million U.S. vaccine doses” worldwide by the end of June 2021.
“We arrived in Taiwan as friends, and Taiwan is facing the challenge of the epidemic. This is why our three cross-party congressmen are so important to visit Taiwan. Friends just want to help each other,” Sen. Duckworth said on Sunday, referring to the bipartisan composition of the U.S. congressional delegation.
The U.S. is “closely coordinating” with “Japan and other partners, friends, and allies” to continue to supply Taiwan and other countries with coronavirus vaccines and related medical supplies as needed, Sen. Sullivan said at Sunday’s press conference, according to CNA.
Japan also recently announced plans to donate Chinese coronavirus vaccines to Taiwan. Tokyo’s first shipment of vaccines arrived in Taipei on June 4.
“Japan delivered, free of charge, 1.24 million doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s coronavirus vaccine to the self-ruled island on Friday,” Japan’s Kyodo News reported.
Taiwan’s government has demonstrated nearly unparalleled success in containing the country’s relatively low coronavirus caseload for most of the pandemic. Starting in about mid-May, however, Taiwanese health officials detected an unusually high spike in the nation’s daily infection rate. The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control recorded 11,298 total infections and 260 total deaths from the Chinese coronavirus nationwide as of June 6.
News of the U.S. government’s planned vaccine shipment to Taiwan comes shortly after Taiwan’s government accused China of having successfully blocked Taipei’s attempt to negotiate a direct shipment of coronavirus vaccines from the U.S.-based multinational pharmaceutical company Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech this year.
“We had almost completed the contract signing with the German manufacturer at one point, but it has been delayed till now because China has interfered,” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen wrote in a statement posted to her official Facebook page on May 26. BioNTech, Taiwanese officials said, had insisted that Taiwan not refer to itself as a country in any public press releases on the deal. Taiwan is a sovereign nation that has never been ruled by Beijing, but the Communist Party refers to it incorrectly as a province of China.