Some COVID-19 vaccine suppliers have asked Paraguay to break ties with Taiwan as a precondition for purchasing Chinese vaccines, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, condemning the use of vaccines as a political tool.
The South American country, with a population of about 7 million, had reported 192,599 cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, including 3,695 deaths, WHO data showed.
Purchasing vaccines is not only a health matter, but also a humanitarian issue, especially when Paraguay’s capital, Asuncion, is facing a life-or-death crisis, Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs Director-General Alexander Yui (俞大㵢) told a news briefing in Taipei.
Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times
The government is helping Paraguay purchase vaccines through different channels, and it is opposed to any other party offering vaccines to its ally with conditions, he said.
Taiwan did not “transfer” 2 million vaccine doses to Paraguay that it plans to purchase from AstraZeneca, as some media reports have alleged, Yui said.
Rather, Taiwan has agreed that Paraguay can use its funding for existing bilateral cooperation programs to buy vaccines, he said.
Yui also cited a statement by the Paraguayan Ministry of Foreign Affairs that referred to it being pressured to sever ties with Taipei.
The Paraguayan government is open to commercial negotiations for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines with all possible states and actors worldwide, as long as the vaccines are produced in a serious and responsible environment with sufficient guarantees, the Paraguayan ministry said on Monday.
Some COVID-19 vaccine suppliers, whose legitimacy or link with the Chinese government has not been proven, have suggested breaking relations with Taiwan as a requirement for the purchase of vaccines from China, it said.
This improper setting of preconditions does not have any justification, considering that commercial exchanges between Paraguay and China are normal and fluid, particularly if the high quantity and value of imports from China are taken into account, despite the lack of diplomatic ties, it said.
The pandemic should not be used to pursue political or economic gain, it added.
The Paraguayan ministry also said that India and Qatar had promised to donate 200,000 doses of the Covaxin vaccine and 400,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to the country respectively.
Taiwan maintains ties with 15 diplomatic allies, with Paraguay the only one in South America.
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