TSMC, Hon Hai announce successful negotiation for 10 million doses of vaccine, Beijing does not forget to take credit

As Shanghai’s Fosun Pharmaceuticals announced a “sales agreement” with Taiwanese high-tech companies TSMC and Hon Hai, the Yongling Foundation and Yuli Pharmaceuticals to sell 10 million doses of the BNT/Pfizer vaccine to Taiwan, the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing did not fail to make a politically charged statement of merit.

In an interview with reporters from both sides of the Taiwan Strait on Monday (July 12), Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said the Chinese mainland was willing to provide Taiwan with Chinese vaccines certified by the World Health Organization, but is now “optimistic” that Shanghai’s Fosun Pharmaceuticals will provide Taiwan with German-made BNT vaccines.

The “optimism” appears to be in stark contrast to the efforts of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and Chen Shih-chung, Taiwan’s minister of health and welfare and director general of the Central Epidemic Prevention Command Center, who in late May accused Beijing of interfering and blocking Taiwan’s efforts to directly negotiate vaccines from the German biotech company BNT.

According to Chen, Taiwan and the German company had already reached an agreement on the content of the contract for the direct purchase of vaccines in January this year, but the negotiations suddenly broke down when the use of the word “Taiwan” or “China” was negotiated in a press release.

The Beijing authorities have always claimed that Taiwan is part of China and that they want to recover it and reunify it even with the use of force. Because of this political agenda, Beijing is particularly sensitive to the name and designation of Taiwan, and reacts strongly when it is called or implied that Taiwan is a “country.

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said the agreement between Shanghai’s Fosun and a Taiwanese high-tech company for the purchase of the BNT vaccine “brings a boon to our compatriots in Taiwan who are caught in the middle of the epidemic and have been waiting for the vaccine. He also criticized the Tsai government by name, saying that the gospel was “a little late”, claiming that if Taiwan had “considered the lives and health of Taiwanese compatriots, this matter could have been facilitated earlier”.

Shanghai Fosun claims to be a partner of the German biotech company that produces the BNT vaccine and the exclusive distributor of the vaccine in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

For more than a year after the outbreak, Taiwan’s performance in preventing and fighting the epidemic has been quite good, with the number of infections and deaths remaining very low. However, since the beginning of May this year, there has been a break in the epidemic prevention in Taiwan, and the number of infections and deaths has suddenly soared. Although the epidemic is now much less severe, the lack of vaccine remains a major problem in the prevention and control of the epidemic.

Under pressure from China, Taiwan is not allowed to become a member of the World Health Organization and has recently been unable to attend the annual World Health Assembly.

When the epidemic broke down in May, Taiwan received a total of 730,000 doses of vaccine, or less than 1% of the population. The United States and Japan later donated nearly 5 million doses of vaccine to Taiwan in an emergency, but Taiwan’s current vaccination population is only 14 percent.

Ma Xiaoguang said that mainland China is willing to provide what help it can for Taiwan’s fight against the epidemic, and is willing to assist the Chinese mainland-made, World Health Organization-approved national medicine and Kexing vaccine; however, Shanghai Fosun is willing to provide the German BNT vaccine, “we are also optimistic about it”.

Ma denied that Beijing was obstructing Taiwan’s access to vaccines and forcing politics with business. He said these claims are “self-refuting”.

Beijing has offered to donate Chinese-made vaccines to Taiwan in the past, but Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen government has refused because it believes there is a “political agenda” behind it. Taiwan also has concerns about the lack of transparency in the data on Chinese-made vaccines.

The first 2 million doses of the 10 million doses of vaccine that Taiwan’s TSMC and Hon Hai, the Yongling Foundation and Yuli Pharmaceuticals, which is qualified to import vaccines, negotiated with Shanghai Fosun are expected to be shipped directly from Germany to Taiwan in September.

Taiwan Executive Yuan spokesman Luo Bingcheng also held a press conference on Monday, stressing that the vaccine procurement and donation to the government by TSMC and Hon Hai Group is fully in line with the consensus and expectations of the three principles of “original manufacturer, original labeling, and direct delivery to Taiwan”. “Original manufacturer, original label, direct delivery to Taiwan” are the three principles set by President Tsai Ing-wen when she met with TSMC Chairman Liu Deyin and Hon Hai founder Kuo Tai-ming and authorized them to assist the government in procuring vaccines.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Reuters reported that when Shanghai Fosun began negotiations with TSMC and Hon Hai over the purchase of vaccines, Shanghai Fosun sent the Taiwanese negotiators a template for the agreement, which mentioned that Fosun or its authorized representatives had the right to audit the purchaser’s vaccination procedures, including inspecting vaccination facilities and reviewing vaccination documents.

Reuters said the agreement template also called for Fosun to have the right to collect data and interview vaccinators, giving the impression that this was a clinical trial rather than a large-scale vaccination. But the sources said the agreement template came from a sales agreement Fosun signed with Hong Kong, and that Fosun removed the terms after negotiators in Taiwan objected and did not insist on any data from vaccinations in Taiwan.

A Taiwanese official familiar with the vaccine procurement negotiations was quoted by Reuters as saying that Taiwan’s previous accusations of Chinese interference and obstruction of Taiwan’s vaccine procurement actually did Taiwan a big favor, as it contributed to the rapid donation of much-needed vaccines to Taiwan from the United States and Japan.

“This will always be a political, not a health issue,” the official said.

According to the latest announcement from Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center, Taiwan had 24 new confirmed cases of the disease on Monday (July 12), including 23 local cases and one imported case; there was one death from the disease. Since the outbreak of the new epidemic, there have been 15,273 confirmed cases in Taiwan and 741 deaths.