Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who is making a one-day stop in Taiwan with fellow Democrat Christopher Koons of Delaware and Republican Dan Sullivan of Alaska, said their visit underscores bipartisan US support for the democratic island that Beijing has adopted. Claims to be a hypocrite. Area. Taiwan faces a serious vaccine shortage and has geopolitical significance as a flashpoint in US-China relations.
“I am here to tell you that the United States will not let you stand alone,” Duckworth said at the airport after landing on a US military transport plane. “We will be by your side to make sure that the people of Taiwan have what they need to lead them to the other side of the pandemic and beyond.”
Taiwan was included in a long list of places announced last week that it would receive 25 million doses from the United States in what the Biden administration says is the first tranche of at least 80 million doses to be distributed globally. is. Most of the first tranche, including to Taiwan, will be routed through COVAX, a United Nations-backed program to distribute vaccines in low- and middle-income countries.
Taiwan has accused China of stalling efforts to reach an agreement with BioNTech to import a vaccine co-developed by the German company and Pfizer. Beijing has said it is ready to supply vaccines to Taiwan, including BioNTech, through Chinese partner Fosun, and blames the island’s government for putting politics above the lives of its people. Taiwan’s law has banned the import of Chinese-made drugs.
Welcoming the senators at the airport, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said Taiwan was fortunate that like-minded countries showed support for what he said was about maintaining freedom and democracy in the face of autocracy.
He said, “Taiwan is facing unique challenges in combating the virus. While we are doing our best to import vaccines, we must remove barriers to ensure that these life-saving drugs are imported to Beijing.” be free from troubles.”
He said China was trying to block Taiwan’s international aid and prevent it from participating in the World Health Organization. “We are no strangers to interruptions like that,” he said.
Taiwan and China split in 1949 amid civil war, and most of Taiwan favored maintaining the current state of de facto independence while engaging in strong economic exchanges with the mainland.
China’s ruling Communist Party says Taiwan should come under its control, and pressure on the island has increased in recent months, including flying warplanes near Taiwan. Increasing activity and wide-ranging improvements in China’s military capabilities have raised concerns in the US, which is bound by its own laws to ensure that Taiwan is able to defend itself and that all threats to the island’s security are “serious”. matter of concern”.
Taiwan, which until the most recent outbreak had almost completely tackled the pandemic, is now facing its most severe outbreak since late April, with more than 10,000 new cases.
President Tsai Ing-wen, meeting with senators, expressed her gratitude to the Biden administration for including Taiwan in the first group to receive the vaccine, and said doses would arrive at a critical time for the island.
“I hope that through cooperation with the United States, Japan and other countries, Taiwan will be able to overcome the immediate challenges and … and move towards recovery,” she said.
Both Duckworth, who was born in Thailand, and Sullivan said the US donation also reflects the US’s gratitude for Taiwan’s support, as Taiwan donated millions of masks and other supplies to the US in the early days of the pandemic.
“This is love America in return,” Sullivan said, wearing a mask that he noted had “Love from Taiwan” written on it.
The three senators arrived from South Korea, where they met with senior officials, including foreign and defense ministers, on Friday and Saturday to discuss COVID-19 cooperation, the US-South Korea military alliance and North Korea.
——— Suu reported from Hong Kong.