U.S. Triples Vaccine Doses to Taiwan as China Denies Blocking Access

The United States is deepening its connections with Taiwan in the face of China's increasing political pressure, as the U.S. prepares to send 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan, which has seen a spike in domestic cases of COVID-19 recently.

Washington D.C. has tripled the number of vaccines being donated after President Biden's administration pledged to reallocate vaccines across the world, an announcement made earlier this month. The original amount of doses was 750,000.

A senior administration official told Reuters about the U.S.' plan and claimed the deal had nothing to do with politics.

"We are not allocating these doses, or delivering these doses, based on political or economic conditions. We are donating these vaccines with the singular objective of saving lives," the official said.

The relationship between Beijing and Taipei has been strained recently, after a deal for Taiwan to purchase vaccines from Germany's BioNTech lab fell through this year, and Taiwan officials reportedly increased the blame on China.

China denied the accusations and has continuously offered vaccines, but Reuters reported that Taipei has raised concerns over the Chinese vaccines.

Jonathan Fritz, deputy assistant secretary of state for China, Mongolia, and Taiwan Coordination, told a Senate hearing on Thursday that China had been "very aggressively using vaccine donations as a lever to induce more of Taiwan's diplomatic partners to switch recognition."

The senior official who spoke to Reuters said, "Our vaccines do not come with strings attached," adding that Taiwan had "faced unfair challenges in its efforts to acquire vaccines on the global marketplace."

The 2.5 million doses of Moderna vaccine flew out of Memphis early Saturday morning and are expected to arrive in Taiwan on Sunday evening.

"The donation reflects our commitment to Taiwan as a trusted friend, and a member of the international family of democracies," said the American Institute in Taiwan in a statement.

Reuters reported that only around six percent of Taiwan's 23.5 million people have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

The Biden administration's plan to allocate vaccines is underway in several countries, as Canada reported on Thursday they had received one million doses from the U.S. Other shipments will be traveling to Brazil and India, among other countries.

China and Taiwan's relationship was strained further this week after China reportedly dispatched 36 military planes into southern Taiwan's defensive airspace.

The U.S., meanwhile, has furthered relations with Taipei, as Reuters reported that Washington has been working with Taiwan to create secured supply chains for strategic items such as computer chips.

Newsweek reached out to the Biden administration for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

A medical personnel (R) takes a Moderna vaccination against the Covid-19 coronavirus at Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital in New Taipei City on June 9, 2021. The U.S. has sent out 2.5 million doses of the Coronavirus vaccine to Taiwan after China denied blocking access from other labs. SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images