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Senators say US donating vaccines to Taiwan amid China row

The US will give Taiwan 750,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, a part of President Joe Biden’s transfer to share hundreds of thousands of jabs globally, three senators mentioned Sunday, after the self-ruled island complained that China is hindering its efforts to safe the injections amid an outbreak.

Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who arrived in Taiwan along with her two colleagues, mentioned the journey underscores the bipartisan assist for the democratic island that Beijing claims as its personal renegade territory.

“We are here as friends, because we know that Taiwan is experiencing a challenging time right now, which was why it was especially important for the three of us to be here in a bipartisan way,” mentioned Duckworth.

“It was critical to the United States that Taiwan be included in the first group to receive vaccines, because we recognize your urgent need, and we value this partnership.”

Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, a member of the Armed Services Committee, and Democratic Sen. Christopher Coons of Delaware, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, additionally arrived Sunday morning.

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu acquired the senators on the airport mentioned he was “delighted” to welcome them and thanked them for his or her staunch assist.

“Taiwan is facing unique challenges in combating the virus,” he mentioned. “While we are doing our best to import vaccines, we must overcome obstacles to ensure that these life-saving medicine are delivered free from troubles of Beijing.”

He mentioned China continues to strive block Taiwan’s worldwide help and forestall it from collaborating within the World Health Organization. “We are no strangers to that kind of obstructionism,” he mentioned.

Wu mentioned Taiwan was lucky to have many like-minded international locations exhibiting their assist, which he mentioned is about sustaining freedom and democracy within the face of autocracy.

China has in current months elevated strain on the island, together with flying warplanes into Taiwan’s airspace.

Taiwan and China break up amid civil battle in 1949, and most Taiwanese favor sustaining the present state of de facto independence whereas participating in strong financial exchanges with the mainland.

But huge enhancements in China’s navy capabilities and its growing exercise round Taiwan have raised considerations within the US, which is legally sure to guarantee Taiwan is able to defending itself and to regard all threats to the island’s safety as issues of “grave concern.”

Taiwan, which has weathered nearly unscathed the preliminary outbreak final yr, is now dealing with its most severe flare-up with over 10,000 circumstances because the finish of April.

On Friday, Japan donated 1.24 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Taiwan.

Biden introduced final week the US will swiftly donate an preliminary allotment of 25 million doses of surplus vaccine abroad by way of the U.N.-backed COVAX program, which to date has shared simply 76 million doses with needy international locations. Overall, the White House has introduced plans to share 80 million doses globally by the top of June, most by way of COVAX.

The Thai-born Duckworth mentioned the American donation additionally displays gratitude for Taiwan’s assist for the US, as Taiwan donated private protecting gear and different provides to the US within the early days of the pandemic.

The three senators plan to meet Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and senior authorities officers to focus on US-Taiwan relations and different points throughout their one-day journey.

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