The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday welcomed a US pledge to donate 750,000 COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan, saying it sends a strong and clear message of support for the nation.
The size of the pledge was confirmed during a brief visit yesterday morning by US senators Tammy Duckworth, Dan Sullivan and Christopher Coons, and is part of Washington’s plan to share at least 80 million vaccine doses globally by the end of the month.
Taiwan is the first country for which the US has officially announced the specific number of vaccine doses it would receive after saying it would share its vaccine reserve, the ministry said in a statement.
Photo: Lin Cheng-kun, Taipei Times
The White House on Thursday said that of the first 25 million vaccine doses, 19 million would be distributed through the COVAX program. Of those, 7 million doses would go to Asia, including Taiwan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Maldives, Nepal, the Pacific Islands, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
The White House statement did not specify how many doses each country would receive or when they would be delivered.
In response to yesterday’s announcement, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) expressed gratitude for the US support amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in Taiwan.
DPP Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said that donations from the US and Japan have shown that democratic countries stand by Taiwan, as pressure from Beijing has made it difficult for Taipei to buy vaccines.
Japan donated 1.24 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which arrived on Friday.
“We hope that, if possible, could there be more?” KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) asked during a Facebook livestream.
“This is also what President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should strive for at this stage,” he said, adding that even with Japan’s donation and the 860,000 doses the government has already received through other channels, Taiwan still has less than one-10th of the 30 million doses it needs to achieve herd immunity.
Lin Wen-cheng (林文程), a professor at the Institute of China and Asia-Pacific Studies at National Sun Yat-sen University, said that the donations are meant to counter Beijing’s “vaccine diplomacy,” which is aimed at expanding its influence in the Asia-Pacific region and divide Taiwan.
Wang said it was significant that the US senators arrived in Taiwan aboard a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III freighter.
The use of the C-17, which transported the US senators to the Maldives, Japan and South Korea before arriving in Taiwan, is significant in strategic and defense terms because it links all important US allies in the region, Wang said.
Lin Ying-yu (林穎佑), an assistant professor at National Chung Cheng University, said the US’ use of a military aircraft was a way for Washington to showcase its emergency military transport and ability to land at a Taiwanese airport in times of need.
Additional reporting by Sherry Hsiao
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