US triples vaccine supply with 2.5 million doses sent to Taiwan
Washington, June 19 (EFE).- The United States Saturday shipped 2.5 million doses of anti-coronavirus vaccines to Taiwan, a move that is to likely spark the Chinese anger.
Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said the shipment for Taiwan took off from the US as part of President Joe Biden’s vaccine diplomacy.
“Wheels up! Our donation of 2.5 million vaccine doses is on the way to Taiwan, whose health partnership with the US helped save lives here and around the world,” Price tweeted.
The island, which is battling a spike in domestic cases over the past few weeks, has an overall coronavirus caseload of nearly 14,000, including 540 deaths.
Taiwan aims to cover 60 percent of its nearly 24 million people with at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by October.
The US had previously promised to send 750,000 doses to Taiwan but decided to increase the number of shots as their donations to different countries have multiplied.
China had offered vaccines to Taiwan. Taipei snubbed the offer over safety concerns.
China sees Washington’s donation as meddling in its internal affairs as Beijing considers the island its territory and usually threatens to merge the “breakaway province” under its “One China” principle.
Taiwan is one of the major flashpoints in the China-US dispute amid Beijing asserting sovereignty over it and not ruling out the use of force to recover it.
Washington is the largest supplier of arms to Taiwan and is likely to be its greatest military ally if a war broke out with China.
Tensions between Beijing and Taipei increased considerably during former US President Donald Trump’s tenure.
Trump prioritized strengthening relations with Taiwan, including arms sales.
Washington broke diplomatic ties with the island in favor of China in 1979.
However, the US has adopted what it calls the Taiwan Relations Act to defend the island and supply military equipment.
The US, in 2018, inaugurated its new de facto embassy on the island in the absence of official diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
China argues that Taiwan is part of the People’s Republic and insists that foreign countries can only have official diplomatic relations with the Mainland and not Taiwan.
In April, the US administration under President Joe Biden reaffirmed its support for the island during a meeting between three former senior US officials and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei.
Taiwan has been governed autonomously since 1949 – when Kuomintang nationalists took refuge on the island after losing the civil war against the Communists. EFE