The leading US diplomat in Taiwan on Wednesday reported that Washington was in no rush to send COVID-19 vaccines to the island, noting that the number of infections remained relatively low, although he said talks continue on the matter.
After months of relative safety, Taiwan is battling a wave of domestic COVID-19 cases, but it has only vaccinated about 1% of its more than 23 million people. Read more
The Taiwanese government says millions more vaccines are on the way, and last week the health minister spoke to his US counterpart for help after President Joe Biden said he would send at least 20 million doses of the vaccine. against COVID-19 abroad by the end of June. . Read more
Brent Christensen, the outgoing US de facto ambassador to Taipei, told reporters that Taiwan’s handling of the pandemic has impressed everyone globally.
“We are very confident in Taiwan’s health authorities’ ability to contain the latest outbreak,” he said.
“I would also like to point out that many of Taiwan’s neighbors in the region are also experiencing epidemics and that Taiwan’s infection numbers are still among the lowest in the world,” Christensen added.
The criteria for the US vaccine release were still under development, but they included the level of infection, the capacity of the health system and the level of vaccination, he said.
“We know that Taiwan’s vaccines will be available in the coming months and I can assure everyone that we are engaging with Taiwan at all levels.”
Like most countries, the US has no formal diplomatic ties with the Chinese-claimed Taiwan, but it is their strongest advocate on the world stage and a major source of weapons.
China has offered vaccines to Taiwan, but the government has rejected the idea, saying Beijing has not provided adequate information on its vaccines and has nonetheless tried to block Taiwan’s access to vaccines internationally. Read more
Taiwan has ordered more than 20 million vaccines from AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) and Moderna Inc (MRNA.O), as well as developing its own shots. So far, just over 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca have arrived.
The Chinese Taiwan Affairs Bureau said Taiwan was using “many different excuses” to prevent its people from receiving vaccines from China.
“This is the biggest political obstacle for Taiwanese countrymen to get out of the epidemic as soon as possible,” spokeswoman Zhu Fenglian told reporters in Beijing.
Referring to China, Christensen said threats against Taiwan had felt unrelenting lately and pulled out a pineapple to put on his desk, a reference to Beijing’s decision in February to ban imports from the fruit island.
“I think we can all remember a recent example from Taiwan that has shown its resolve and unity in the face of bullying. Bullying quickly backfired. “