Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Wu Chiu-sup on Thursday (June 3) accused China of seeking political gains by providing vaccines and other anti-epidemic aid abroad, including increasing pressure on Taiwan. Wu also said that Beijing’s Communist Party leaders “are also using the epidemic to impose their political agenda on many other countries.
Wu made the comments in a speech to the Japan Foreign Correspondents’ Association and in response to questions from the media.
Beijing has consistently claimed sovereignty over Taiwan and insisted on achieving the goal of reunifying Taiwan with mainland China even if force is used. Since Taiwan’s new crown epidemic worsened last month, Beijing and Taipei have erupted in several rounds of back-and-forth over vaccine procurement. Taiwan has accused China of interfering with Taiwan’s procurement of BNT vaccine from a German biotech company, leading to a last-minute breakdown in negotiations between the two sides, while Beijing has slammed Taiwan for “playing political games” with people’s lives by refusing to provide the vaccine to Taiwan.
Wu said that China is using “vaccine diplomacy” to create divisions in Central and South American countries, giving Beijing the opportunity to expand its influence in the Western Hemisphere. He slammed China for providing Chinese-made vaccines, other anti-epidemic resources and development funds to countries “willing to enter into political partnerships with Beijing.
Since Tsai’s administration, Taiwan’s diplomatic offensive has whittled down Taiwan’s borders to just 15, a third of which are in Central and South America, including Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in Central America, and Paraguay in South America.
Wu noted that China uses such partnerships to lure or pressure those allies of the United States and Taiwan to shift their positions in favor of Beijing. Through these operations, Wu said, China is trying to expand its political influence and harm the interests of Taiwan and the United States.
Wu blamed Beijing’s implementation of Xi’s “Belt and Road” plan for leaving a legacy of “debt, corruption and impaired democratic governance” in Asia, Africa and certain countries in Europe that have received Chinese loans to build docks, railroads and other infrastructure projects. “China has sold, supplied, and sold overseas.
China has sold, supplied and donated large quantities of domestically produced vaccines overseas. Two vaccines produced by China National Pharmaceutical and Kexing have been certified by the World Health Organization as authorized for emergency use. But the two Chinese companies, especially Sinopharm, have often been criticized for a lack of transparency in data sharing.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimichi Mogi recently said that he is studying the transfer of Japan’s surplus New Crown vaccine to Taiwan. Wu Zhaosub, when asked about the progress related to this matter, simply said that he had no further comment at this time. Taiwan’s TSMC is the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturer. At a time when there is a global shortage of semiconductor chips, can Taiwan trade chips with Germany for BNT vaccine? Wu Chiu-sup responded that in a real world where “business is business”, it would be difficult to operate a chip-for-vaccine exchange, but Taiwan will continue to communicate with the German biotech (BNT) company.