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Iran Press TV

In visit to Chinese Taipei, US senators promise COVID vaccines in defiance of Beijing

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 06 June 2021 7:03 AM

The United States will donate 750,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) amid the latter's row with China over access to the shots, US Senator Tammy Duckworth announced after arriving on the self-governed island along with two fellow senators.

Speaking at Taipei's Songshan Airport on Sunday, Senator Duckworth, a Democrat, said the doses were part of the first tranche of US donations after President Joe Biden vowed last week to supply around 25 million vaccine doses to countries that needed them, mostly through the global Covax vaccine sharing program.

The move will almost certainly irk China, which has sovereignty over Chinese Taipei. The United States, along with almost all other countries in the world, recognizes that sovereignty in accordance with the "One-China policy."

However, successive US administrations have been courting officials in Taipei in an attempted affront to Beijing and in violation of their own stated policy.

Highlighting Washington's bipartisan support for Taipei, Sen. Duckworth said it was "critical" that the island be included in the first group to receive vaccines because "we recognize your urgent need and we value this partnership."

The Democratic senator provided no further details of which vaccines the territory would get or when.

The US donation comes as Chinese Taipei has accused Beijing of trying to block the island from accessing vaccines internationally, an allegation China has strongly rejected.

Beijing has offered the island Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccines, but the government in Taipei has declined to authorize their import, expressing concern about their safety.

Chinese Taipei's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, who received the American senators at the airport, thanked the Biden administration for the donation, while accusing China of causing trouble for the island in getting international aid to combat the pandemic.

"Taipei is facing unique challenges in combating the virus," he said. "While we are doing our best to import vaccines, we must overcome obstacles to ensure that these life-saving medicines are delivered free from trouble from Beijing."

Taipei, which efficiently managed to weather the initial COVID-19 outbreak last year, is now facing its most serious flare-up with over 10,000 cases since the end of April.

Recently, the United States has facilitated easier diplomatic contact with the self-ruled island, in violation of Chinese sovereignty and its own stated policy.

President Biden dispatched a delegation to the island in April to "signal" his "personal" commitment to the secessionist government there, a move largely perceived as being part of his administration's hostile posture against China.

The US has also been selling weapons to Chinese Taipei and staging shows of military force around it.

China has in response ramped up military patrols and drills near the island in recent months, asserting its sovereignty.

Chinese Taipei remains China's most sensitive territorial issue and a major bone of contention with Washington. China has repeatedly warned the US against any formal relations with the government in Taipei.

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