The U.S. is donating 750,000 COVID-19 shots to Taiwan, a trio of senators said Sunday, filling in the lines of President Biden’s export plans and sending a clear message to China.
Rep. Dan Sullivan, Alaska Republican, and Democratic Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois announced the gift during a trip to the Asian island nation.
They met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng to discuss the pandemic and Taiwan’s security needs in the face of aggression from Beijing, which considers the island a breakaway territory instead of an autonomous nation.
Taiwan served as a model of coronavirus prevention in the early days of the pandemic but has suffered of late, making it one of many nations that are scrambling to vaccinate their populations as the U.S. and other countries return to normal.
Ms. Duckworth, a combat veteran, said the vaccine donation “reflects our gratitude for Taiwan’s efforts to send [personal protective equipment] and other supplies to America in the early days of the pandemic.”
“I will continue working to support the people of Taiwan and make sure they get what they need to reach the other side of this pandemic,” she said.
The doses are part of an initial tranche of 25 million doses that Mr. Biden is donating to countries around the world. So far, he’s committed 80 million doses for export.
The U.S. ordered more doses than it needs to serve its population, so the administration faces pressure to share its surplus with other countries and counter “vaccine diplomacy” by China and Russia.
Mr. Sullivan, a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, said the Taiwan gift is a “demonstration that, in spite of a global pandemic emanating from China — characterized by a lack of transparency and lack of international cooperation from the Chinese Communist Party — the United States, by contrast, is committed to working in a constructive and open manner with our friends, allies and partners to bring healing and relief with effective vaccines that benefit our own citizens, as well as others throughout the world.”