Czech Republic pledges vaccines to Taiwan
Berlin/Taipei, July 27 (CNA) The Czech Republic on Monday announced it will donate 30,000 COVID-19 vaccine jabs to Taiwan, which Taipei described as a reflection of the true friendship between the two countries.
Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtech announced the donation after a Cabinet meeting at which Prime Minister Andrej Babis approved the move.
Vojtech later tweeted that the world will only defeat COVID-19 if it is completely vaccinated. "We therefore need to help countries that do not have enough vaccine jabs," he said.
He said the Czech Republic has a surplus of vaccines and is therefore able to donate at least 2.39 million vaccines through the end of the year, which will likely go to Balkan countries, Africa and Asia.
Of those, the Czech Republic will donate 250,000 vaccine doses to Vietnam and 30,000 doses to Taiwan.
"We are very happy to be able to help countries in need," he said, but did not elaborate on which vaccine will be donated to Taiwan nor when delivery will be made.
The donation for Vietnam has historical context. The Czech Republic imported a large number of Vietnamese migrant workers during the communist era, and Vietnamese heritage are now the third largest ethnic minority in the European country.
Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil, who visited Taiwan in late August last year despite a warning from Beijing, and Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib, an outspoken supporter of Taiwan, were believed to be among the key persons to push for the donation to Taiwan.
In a tweet following the announcement of the donation, Vystrcil said the vaccine gift showed "concrete help to a country that has already helped us several times."
The Czech Republic is the third European country to have pledged vaccine donations to Taiwan, following Lithuania and Slovakia.
Meanwhile, Japan and the United States have donated a combined 5.84 million doses of AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines to Taiwan, after the government failed to procure 5 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which it blamed on interference from China.
In a statement released Tuesday, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) thanked the Czech Republic for its vaccine donation.
The phrase "a friend in need, a friend indeed" is the best description of the true friendship between Taiwan and Czech, MOFA said.
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also extended her gratitude to the Czech government for the support.
Citing Tsai, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said Taiwan and the Czech Republic are not just solid partners but also good friends who help each other in times of adversity.
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