US triples vaccines with 2.5 million-dose shipment to Taiwan

US triples vaccines with 2.5 million-dose shipment to Taiwan

China has repeatedly offered to send coronavirus vaccines to Taiwan but the self-ruled island has expressed concern about the security of Chinese shots.

The united states will ship 2.5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan on Saturday, a senior administration official told Reuters, quite tripling Washington's previous allocation of shots for the island, which has faced increasing political and military pressure from China.

Washington, competing with Beijing to deepen geopolitical clout through so-called "vaccine diplomacy", initially had promised to donate 750,000 doses to Taiwan, but is increasing that number as President Joe Biden's administration advances its pledge to send 80 million US-made shots round the world.

China, which considers Taiwan an integral a part of its territory, has repeatedly offered to send coronavirus vaccines to the island, which has been battling a spike in domestic infections. Taipei has expressed concern about the security of Chinese shots.

The 2.5 million donated doses of the Moderna Inc vaccine will leave Memphis, Tennessee, on a flight belonging to Taiwan's China Airlines early Saturday and arrive in Taipei on Sunday evening, the senior US administration official said, adding that the prompt delivery was thanks to experts from each side having the ability to figure out regulatory issues.

"We aren't allocating these doses, or delivering these doses, supported political or economic conditions. We are donating these vaccines with the singular objective of saving lives," the official said.

"Our vaccines don't accompany strings attached," the official said, adding Taiwan had "faced unfair challenges in its efforts to accumulate vaccines on the worldwide marketplace."

A deal for Taiwan to get vaccines from Germany's BioNTech SE fell through this year, with Taiwan's government blaming pressure from Beijing.

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

"We believe that these attempts by China to dam purchases, for political purposes, are reprehensible," the senior Biden administration official said.

Taiwan is trying to hurry up the arrival of the many vaccines it's on order, although infections remain comparatively low despite an increase in domestic cases. Only around 6% of Taiwan's 23.5 million people have received a minimum of round of a vaccine regimen.

The US shipment comes at a time when Washington has been working with Taipei to make secure supply chains for strategic items like computer chips, of which Taiwan may be a key producer, that are vital for US automobile manufacturers and other industries.

It also comes after Taiwan announced on Friday that it'll allow Terry Gou, the billionaire founding father of Taiwan's Foxconn and semiconductor giant TSMC, to barter on its behalf for Covid-19 vaccines.

Jonathan Fritz, a senior State Department official, said on Thursday that China had been "very aggressively using vaccine donations as a lever to induce more of Taiwan's diplomatic partners to modify recognition."

Beijing has steadily whittled down the amount of Taiwan's diplomatic allies, which now stands at just 15 countries.

The US , which like most countries has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, has watched with alarm the stepped up tensions with Beijing and Biden's administration has vowed to spice up ties with the island, which it's required under US law to provide with the means of defense.

Earlier in the week Taiwan reported the most important incursion yet by China's air force, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, into its defense identification zone.

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