Ex-U.S. defense official urges Biden to donate vaccines to Taiwan
Washington, June 2 (CNA) The U.S. plan to donate a substantial number of COVID-19 vaccine doses worldwide should include Taiwan, a former U.S. assistant secretary of defense said in a statement Wednesday.
Taiwan deserves "special consideration" in the U.S. donation plan not only because the island provided the U.S. with PPE last year, but also because it faces Chinese obstruction in its efforts to procure vaccines, said Randall G. Schriver, who currently chairs the Virginia-based Project 2049 Institute.
U.S. President Joe Biden has pledged to distribute 80 million vaccine doses globally by the end of June, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week that details of the plan will be made public within the next two weeks.
"The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) has aggressively sought to thwart Taiwan's vaccine efforts," Schriver said, referring implicitly to Beijing allegedly blocking Taiwan's vaccine procurement deal with a German pharmaceutical company.
According to Taiwan's Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), Taiwan's plan to purchase COVID-19 vaccines from BioNTech SE in January was ended by external factors at the contract signing stage.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also said on May 26 that the contract with BioNTech was shelved because of "China's intervention."
China has also condemned other countries for aiding Taiwan, Schriver said, alluding to Beijing's recent criticism of the Japanese government's plan to donate vaccines to Taiwan.
Speaking at a press briefing on May 31, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) denounced Japan's intent as an attempt to "seek political gains" and "interfere in China's internal affairs."
At the same time, Taiwan has been prevented "access to the World Health Organization and other lifelines of international support due to the CCP's coercion," Schriver added.
He called on the U.S. government to lend its support and help to Taiwan, which quickly donated protective equipment to the U.S. when the disease spread rapidly there last year.
Taiwan's Representative to the U.S. Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) later thanked Schriver via Twitter for recognizing the unique challenges facing the island and supporting the country's access to vaccines.
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