Senior U.S. and Taiwanese officials held a video conference in Washington, D.C. this week to discuss cooperation on ending the New Guinea pandemic. As the outbreak continues to heat up in Taiwan, the need for a New Guinea vaccine has become increasingly urgent, and Taiwan’s representative to the U.S., Mei-Chin Hsiao, expressed to the U.S. side the urgent need for access to the vaccine, to which the U.S. side responded positively.
Under the arrangement of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the agency’s Executive Director Ingrid Larson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Jonathan Fritz of the Bureau of East Asian Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, and Gale Smith, Global Coordinator for New Guinea Virus Outbreak Response and Health Security, met with Taiwan’s representative to the U.S. on Thursday (May 27). held an online meeting with Taiwan Representative to the U.S. Mei-Chin Hsiao to exchange ideas on how the two sides can strengthen cooperation in responding to and ending the worldwide New Guinea pneumonia pandemic.
The Bureau of East Asian Affairs tweeted a photo of the meeting, and the Taiwan Representative Office in the U.S. retweeted the State Department’s tweet, saying that Taiwan’s representative to the U.S., Mei-Chen Hsiao, had in-depth discussions with the U.S. that day and expressed Taiwan’s “urgent need for U.S. support for Taiwan to have access to a safe and effective vaccine.”
Hsiao told the media after the meeting that she continued to express Taiwan’s urgent need for epidemic prevention during the meeting, “for the U.S. side to release and incorporate Taiwan as soon as possible.” As for the response from Smith, the State Department’s new epidemic coordinator, Hsiao said that the U.S. side’s “distribution mechanism” is still under The new government has been working on a new project for a long time.
Vaccine arrives in Taiwan amid rising epidemic
According to the Taiwan Central Epidemic Command Center, there were 299 confirmed cases on Friday, and the highest number of new deaths since the outbreak was 19 on a single day.
On the same day, the first batch of 150,000 doses of vaccine purchased by Taiwan from the U.S. pharmaceutical company Modena arrived in Taiwan, and central epidemic commander Chen Shih-chung said another 2 million doses of Modena vaccine will be delivered to Taiwan in June.
Prior to the arrival of the vaccines, AIT welcomed the first batch of U.S. vaccines to Taiwan in a Facebook post. The posting said, “The U.S. and Taiwan have a long history of collaborative exchanges in global health. We support Taiwan’s ability to obtain vaccines. We are working to engage in discussions with Taiwan at all levels on the urgent issue of vaccines.” The posting also included the hashtag “True Friends, True Progress.”
As of Friday, 333,716 people had been vaccinated against the new coronavirus in Taiwan, a rate of about 1 percent, and as the outbreak tightens, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is facing pressure from people eager for the vaccine to arrive and from blue campers, including former KMT Chairman Hung Hsiu-chu, to open up imports of the vaccine from China.
Providing Taiwan vaccine could be a gesture of goodwill
On Thursday, during an online discussion on Taiwan’s international space at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Voice of America asked Alex Wong, former deputy assistant secretary of state for Asia-Pacific affairs in the Trump administration, how Washington would respond to Taiwan’s vaccine dilemma.
Wong said that the Biden administration had previously announced that it would release 20 million doses of vaccines to the world, but that the distribution of vaccines involved a number of factors, such as need, aid and the ability to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccines, but that is not to say that Taiwan could not receive the vaccines, such as when Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced at their summit that they would provide vaccines to those South Korean military personnel who work with the U.S. military, although some have said that Biden could have easily said no to providing South Korean vaccines because South Korea is a developed country that also has a good health care system.
Huang Zhihan, currently a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) under the U.S. Congress and a researcher at the Hudson Institute, said he was aware of the existing discussions between the U.S. and Taiwan in this regard and that “there should be a way for the U.S. to provide some vaccines to Taiwan, even if it’s not enough to administer to the entire population of Taiwan, but it’s a goodwill gesture. Especially in last year’s epidemic, Taiwan provided the United States and many countries around the world with personal medical protection equipment and assistance when needed, and it would be good if the United States reciprocated.
Japan considers providing vaccines
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Tsai accused China of interfering with Taiwan’s access to vaccines. She said the Republic of China government actively approached the procurement of international vaccines, including AZ (AstraZeneca) of the United Kingdom, Modena of the United States and BNT of Germany, the vaccines of the United Kingdom and the United States were ordered smoothly, “As for the BNT vaccine of Germany, we and the original German factory were once almost finished signing the contract, but because of China’s intervention, it was delayed until now and could not be signed. “
After Japan’s Sankei Shimbun reported on Friday that the Japanese government was considering providing some of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Taiwan, the Japan Broadcasting Association (NHK) reported that Japanese Foreign Minister Toshichika Mogi confirmed the matter at a press conference.
The report mentioned Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen saying that the process of procuring vaccines from abroad is being hampered by the Chinese Communist Party.
Toshimichi said it is important to ensure that all countries and regions have equitable access to safe and effective vaccines, and that Taiwan has provided assistance to Japan in times of need, such as when Taiwan donated to Japan during the 2011 earthquake in eastern Japan, and that Japan would consider providing vaccines to Taiwan in the event of a shortage of vaccines there.
In response to Japan’s consideration of providing vaccines to Taiwan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian reiterated at a regular press conference on Friday that Taiwan’s access to mainland vaccines is open, and that “the Taiwanese authorities will not succeed in their ‘quest for independence’ through vaccines.”