Taiwan welcomed 2.5 million coronavirus vaccine doses from the United States on Sunday as help from a true friend, more than doubling the major semiconductor-producing island’s arsenal of shots as it deals with a cluster of domestic infections, Reuters reports.
Washington, competing with Beijing to deepen geopolitical clout through “vaccine diplomacy,” initially had promised to donate 750,000 doses but increased that number as President Joe Biden’s administration advances its pledge to send 80 million U.S.-made shots around the world.
A China Airlines Boeing 777 freighter carrying the vaccines landed at Taoyuan airport outside of Taipei late afternoon, greeted on the tarmac by Health Minister Chen Shih-chung and the top U.S. diplomat in Taiwan, Brent Christensen.
Speaking from her office in comments broadcast after the arrival of the Moderna Inc shots, President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her “sincere gratitude.”
“A friend in need is a friend indeed,” she added, switching into English.
The American Institute in Taiwan – the de facto U.S. embassy – said the donation reflected the U.S. commitment to Taiwan “as a trusted friend and an important security partner.”
“As President Biden has said, ‘we will not use our vaccines to secure favors from other countries,'” it said in a statement. “Instead, ‘we’ll share these vaccines in service of ending the pandemic everywhere.'”
Taiwanese politicians from across the political spectrum also thanked the United States, including the main opposition party, the Kuomintang, which has hammered Tsai for what it says is slow procurement of vaccines.
China rebukes US ‘political manipulation’ of vaccines
China’s foreign ministry urged the United States on Monday not to seek “political manipulation” in the name of vaccine assistance after the United States delivered 2.5 million coronavirus shots to Chinese-claimed Taiwan.
Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian made the comment at a daily news briefing in Beijing.