While Taiwan strived to speed up COVID-19 vaccine deliveries from its international allies in a recent surge of availability, Beijing’s offer to help did not win the confidence of Taiwan people who considered the proffered vaccine to be a political ploy, a Taiwanese scholar said.
Recently, Su Tzu-Yun, director of the Defense Strategy and Resources Division of the Institute for National Defense and Security Research in Taiwan, told The Epoch Times the reasons behind Taiwan’s reluctance to receive Chinese-made vaccines.
Taiwan, a model territory once known for successfully handling the Covid-19 outbreak, reported 295 new cases and one death on May 20, making it the sixth consecutive day of over 100 domestic infections, official data shows.
The Central Epidemic Command Center of Taiwan introduced a Level 3 COVID-19 alert nationwide on May 19. In the past week, over 1500 locally transmitted cases were reported.
Only about one percent of Taiwan’s 23.5 million residents have been vaccinated, Reuters reported.
Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Taiwan Affairs Office, expressed the mainland’s will to “pay the greatest efforts” and suggested Taiwan remove “man-made barriers” earlier this week.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council responded by denying the “false sympathy” from Beijing, stating Taipei would secure more reliable vaccine supplies worldwide if Beijing refrained from interfering.
In an interview with The Epoch Times on May 18, Su expressed concerns over the low protection rate of Chinese-made vaccines revealed by real-life incidents and lack of credible scientific proof of efficacy.
“There were many falsification scandals about the production of Chinese vaccines in the past, including childhood vaccinations,” he said. Chinese children were paralyzed by vaccines meant to protect the vulnerable from diseases.
“This would not happen in a democratic country, but under the authoritarian politics of the CCP, it makes the credibility of the vaccines even less reliable.”
“It would obviously be more worrisome to accept vaccines from the CCP to help Taiwan at this time,” Su said, adding that Taiwan’s locally produced vaccines are expected to be available in July.
Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwanese ambassador to the United States, posted to Facebook on May 18, “All-out efforts to contact the U.S. side to assist Taiwan to secure the vaccine as early as possible.”
The United States announced it will share over 80 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from its stockpile with the international community, including 60 million doses of AstraZeneca, and the rest from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.
According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare, a new shipment of 400,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses purchased through COVAX, made by the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca, arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday afternoon.
Lee Zhen-shou, a researcher at Taiwan’s National Policy Foundation, said in a recent interview, “The success rate of the vaccine in mainland China is either very low or it does not dare to reveal the entire effectiveness of its vaccine, so people are highly suspicious of its vaccine.”
Thus far, China has exported hundreds of millions of vaccines mainly overseas to developing countries, yet claimed that it would never use the vaccine to lead the world.
Su criticized Beijing as “putting the cart before the horse,” when the immunization coverage rate remains low in the mainland. “It raises doubts about Beijing’s intentions [behind its vaccine diplomacy],” said Su.
The Global Times, a media mouthpiece of the communist regime, accused Taiwan’s authority of showing “incompetence and arrogance” in a May 18 report, quoting from an anonymous expert that the ruling party of Taiwan should appreciate and accept Beijing’s kindness.
“It pushes Taiwan further away, which means it hurts the feelings of cross-strait people even more,” said Su.
In addition, he described the recent outbreak in Taiwan as “multi-point concurrent,” which should be investigated in-depth afterward.
Luo Ya and Zhang Yujie contributed to this report.