“Our donation reflects our commitment to Taiwan, a vibrant democracy, valued partner, and trusted friend,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said via Twitter on Sunday morning.
Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States received the vaccines on behalf of the government prior to their departure from Kentucky’s Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, CNA reported. The new donation will arrive in Taiwan on Nov. 1 on a China Airlines plane, according to a Sunday announcement by the American Institute in Taiwan.
Upon the latest arrival, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her gratitude on Twitter over the continued support from Washington, which proves the “strength of our bilateral partnership,” according to Tsai.
#Taiwan is deeply grateful to the US government for its latest donation of 1.5 million Moderna doses. Our friends in the US have to date provided Taiwan with a total of 4 million vaccine doses, demonstrating the strength of our bilateral partnership. pic.twitter.com/9wM8pt0nrK
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) October 31, 2021
An unnamed Biden administration official told Reuters, “Our vaccines do not come with strings attached” and were not donated to “secure favors or extract concessions.” The remarks spotlighted Beijing’s attempt to strengthen its geopolitical clout around the globe through heavy-handed vaccine diplomacy, leveraging deals for Huawei 5G, for instance.
The Chinese communist regime, which has frequently claimed Taiwan as its own and vowed to take over with military force, accused any international support toward the island nation of interfering with its “internal affairs.”
Yet still, many countries have boosted relationships with the self-ruled democratic island by allocating vaccines to Taiwan amid domestic COVID-19 surges, including Japan, Lithuania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland.
Japan, a close neighbor of Taiwan, has made six donations to the island with a total of over 4.2 million vaccine doses, Taipei announced.
Like most countries with no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the United States has watched its rising tensions with Beijing with alarm. President Joe Biden’s administration has vowed to boost ties with the island, which under U.S. law Washington is required to supply with the means of defense.
Tsai confirmed on Oct. 28 that for the first time in 40 years there are U.S. troops on Taiwanese soil, saying that she’s confident that the United States would defend the self-ruled island if it were attacked by China.
“I do have faith, given the long-term relationship that we have with the United States,” she told CNN in an interview aired on Oct. 27.
On Oct. 31, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concerns about Beijing’s escalating military harassment toward Taiwan during a face-to-face meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Reuters contributed to this report.