Taiwan Sends 27 Tons of Medical Aid to Ukraine: 'Taiwan Is With Freedom'

Taiwan shipped 27 tons of medical supplies to Ukraine late Monday night, the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Tuesday.

Taiwan has joined Western allies in condemning Russia's invasion of its neighboring country, and many of its citizens have raised an alarm about the parallels between Russia and the island nation's own expansionist, authoritarian-led neighbor: China.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Jaushieh Joseph Wu shared photos of the humanitarian aid shipments on Twitter, writing: "While #China sides with #Russia in an 'unlimited alliance,' #Taiwan is with freedom & democracy fighting the expansion of authoritarianism."

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, more than half a million Ukrainians have been forced to flee. The United Nations has estimated that 18 million people will need humanitarian assistance if the war continues.

In addition to sending medical supplies, Taiwan's government announced on Tuesday that it would join other nations in blocking some Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system. This action was largely symbolic, since Taiwan has little trade with Russia. However, the island is a dominant manufacturer of semiconductor chips, and officials have already announced that chip companies are complying with export controls to Russia.

China has dismissed the possibility of joining global sanctions against Russia, its strategic partner, although Beijing officials have waffled on their precise stance toward the war in Ukraine. China has yet to announce any humanitarian aid for Ukrainians.

The Russian invasion was quickly followed by debates over the probability of a Chinese invasion in Taiwan. Pundits on some Taiwanese television programs discussed whether Russia's aggression signaled a shift in the world order, and whether China could take advantage of the West's preoccupation with Ukraine.

Taiwan Sends Medical Aid to Ukraine
Taiwan has shipped 27 tons of medical supplies to Ukraine, the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Tuesday. Photo of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei. StockByM/iStock / Getty Images Plus

Unlike Ukraine, Taiwan is not recognized by most countries as a sovereign nation, and Chinese President Xi Jingping has increasingly warned Taiwan not to seek formal independence from China. In recent years, Beijing has also sent a growing number of warplanes to Taiwan. Military analyst Adam Ni described this as a signal of the larger neighbor's "military muscle" and its "determination to claim Taiwan, by force if necessary," although China has not indicated any imminent threat.

Nonetheless, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said that comparisons between Ukraine and Taiwan should not be overdrawn, as they could provoke unnecessary panic at home. Her government has emphasized its strong relationship with the United States as a defense against Chinese aggression. On Monday, President Joe Biden sent a delegation of former senior defense and security officials to Taiwan in a sign of support for the island.