Two US senators yesterday called on US President Joe Biden’s administration to speed up the delivery of 750,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses that it promised to send to Taiwan to help combat a surge in domestic cases.
US senators Edward Markey and Mitt Romney said in a joint statement that Taiwan offered a helping hand to the US last year by providing personal protective equipment to frontline healthcare workers across the US at the time of “our greatest need during the pandemic,” and the US must do the same amid Taiwan’s surge in domestic COVID-19 cases.
“We call upon the Biden administration to expedite its commitment to supply 750,000 vaccines to Taiwan, stand ready to field additional requests from Taipei and allot doses for use by the Taiwanese armed forces,” they said.
The senators’ statement was released after the US had on Sunday pledged to donate 750,000 vaccine doses to Taiwan, although Washington had not said when the delivery would be made.
The size of the pledge was confirmed when US senators Tammy Duckworth, Dan Sullivan and Christopher Coons stopped briefly in Taiwan on Sunday morning. The donation is part of Washington’s plan to share at least 80 million vaccine doses globally.
Taiwan was the first country to receive an official US announcement about the number of doses to be donated.
In its announcement on Thursday last week, the White House said that 19 million of the first 25 million doses would be distributed through the COVAX global vaccine-sharing program.
Of those, 7 million doses are to go to Taiwan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and Pacific island nations, although the White House statement did not specify how many doses each country would receive or when they would be delivered.
Yesterday, the senators’ statement also said that a US Senate subcommittee hearing titled “Strength Through Partnership: Building the US-Taiwan Relationship” is to take place on Thursday next week.
The hearing would “explore ways to grow US-Taiwan ties and build on our already strong relationship,” the statement said.
“We will seek avenues to bolster Taiwan’s defenses to deter armed aggression, and ... discuss how we bolster Taiwan’s standing in the world to withstand Beijing’s efforts to deny it partners overseas and access to the international community,” it said.
Markey is chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy, while Romney is the subcommittee’s ranking member.
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