TAIPEI—The Chinese sales agent for Germany’s BioNTech SE said on Sunday it had signed a deal to provide 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan, part of a drawn-out and highly politicized process for the island to access the shots.
Taiwan’s government has tried for months to buy the vaccine directly from BioNTech and has blamed the Chinese regime for nixing an agreement the two sides were due to sign earlier this year. The Chinese regime denies the accusations.
Last month, facing public pressure about the slow pace of Taiwan’s inoculation program, the government agreed to allow Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of Taiwan’s Foxconn, as well as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), to negotiate on its behalf for the vaccines, which would be donated to Taiwan’s government for distribution.
Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd, which has a contract with BioNTech to sell the COVID-19 vaccines in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, said in a statement that the shots would be sold to TSMC and Gou’s charity foundation via Fosun’s Hong Kong subsidiary and a Taiwanese medical firm.
Fosun quoted BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin as saying the company was “very grateful to be able to also supply the Taiwanese people with vaccine doses manufactured in Europe”.
However, both TSMC and Foxconn referred Reuters to their statements earlier on Sunday in which they said they were still in the middle of the contract signing process.
The Fosun statement referred to the “Taiwan region”, terminology favored by the Chinese regime to assert its sovereignty claims rather than imply the island is a separate country.
The Chinese regime claims the island as its own, despite the fact that Taiwan is a de facto independent country, with its own military, democratically-elected government, and constitution.
There was no immediate response from Taiwan’s government.
BioNTech, which developed the vaccine jointly with Pfizer, also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
TSMC and Foxconn are major Apple suppliers.
The BioNTech vaccine drama has transfixed Taiwan and dominated headlines. A major Taiwanese Buddhist group, the Tzu Chi Foundation, is also trying to buy the shots.
The Chinese communist regime has repeatedly said that if Taiwan wants the vaccine, it has to respect commercial rules and do it through Fosun.
Germany’s government has also been involved, saying it has been helping in the direct talks between Taiwan and BioNTech.
Taiwan has millions of vaccines on order, mainly from AstraZeneca and Moderna, while the United States and Japan have together donated almost five million doses to the island to help speed up vaccinations.
Around one-tenth of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people have received at least one of the two-shot regimen, though Taiwan’s own relatively small domestic coronavirus outbreak is now largely under control.
By Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report