Taiwan sees 'political warfare' in dispute with China over vaccines

TAIPEI (Reuters) -- Taiwan does not believe China is sincere in supplying it much desired COVID-19 vaccines and thinks it's working to prevent the island from getting shots for political motives as infections surge, officials briefed on the matter told Reuters.

Taiwan sees 'political warfare' in dispute with China over vaccines

China and Taiwan have traded barbs since the world fights the virus, worsening ties at a low ebb because of Taiwan's refusal to accept Chinese sovereignty and stepped up U.S. support for Taipei.

The two have embarked on a bitter war of words about genders, much desired in Taiwan since the medical system comes under pressure from fresh instances with just about 1 percent of the populace of more than 23 million vaccinated.

Taiwan says China prevented it from becoming vaccines produced by Germany's BioNTech, while China says it's happy to deliver a supply of the vaccine by its Chinese sales representative, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd..

However, Taiwan won't take the vaccines from Fosun, saying there is a lack of transparency and China refuses to offer pertinent info.

A senior Taiwan official familiar with the situation told Reuters that China had not utilized an present channel to discuss medical problems, which has been used to swap information on COVID cases, to tackle the vaccine question.

Rather, he said, China was launch"political warfare" into"weaken and split" Taiwan, without a true intention to provide the vaccines.

"They are shouting words like they really mean it but they will not give it for you," he explained.

"There are certain procedures in Taiwan to import vaccines, and when their intention is real, they understand what to do."

The government had for months chosen to not publicise the Chinese intervention in the BioNTech case but had reached a point where it felt it had to, '' he added.

"Vaccines are not politics. But mainland China understands the very best in the world how to politicise vaccines."

A security official looking in to Chinese activity in Taiwan told Reuters that China was"making a lot of effort" to stop Taiwan from becoming vaccines.

"It's much like dollar diplomacy. Only that now dollars are replaced by vaccines," he added, referring to accusations the two sides exchange over buying diplomatic support with loans and other inducements.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office didn't respond to a request for comment, but has said its vaccine provide is sincere and Taiwan shouldn't put up political roadblocks.

'LIAR'

Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Centre said in a statement to Reuters that information about vaccines from Fosun in a state media accounts in which the deal was made was"unclear" and there wasn't any way to know if the shots complied with Taiwan's regulations.

Fosun has not responded to requests for comment.

Taiwan's government is also facing pressure at home in the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party to accept that the Fosun vaccines.

In a press conference on Thursday, senior KMT official Cheng Li-wun known as President Tsai Ing-wen a"vaccine liar" and held up a sign saying folks would perish without vaccines.

Cheng questioned the government had refused to buy vaccines from Fosun, saying their shots had been"100%" BioNTech vaccines. "Everyone has purchased goods from a supplier before," she said, adding Tsai was stuck onto a"wall of ideology" and her rejection of China's deal was to save face.

Meanwhile, China's almost daily incursions into the southwestern corner of Taiwan's air defence zone have lasted.

On Tuesday, Hu Xijin, editor of China's powerful Global Times newspaper, stated that although there were humanitarianism concerns on vaccines, Beijing still had a base line.

"Army aircraft enclosing Taiwan and other stress will continue," he said.

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