The action breaks the deadlock with German supplier BioNTech. Taipei slams Beijing for undermining its ability to purchase the drug. Foxconn and TSMC have an agreement with Chinese distributor Fosun, but the doses for Taiwan will come directly from Germany.
Taipei (AsiaNews) – Taiwanese hi-tech giants Foxconn and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will donate 10 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech anti-COVID-19 vaccine to their government. The two companies announced their decision today in separate press releases.
Taiwan has failed so far to get the vaccine supplies it had ordered. By their action, Foxconn and TSMC end a dispute between Taiwan and mainland China over Taipei's purchase of anti-coronavirus drugs.
In May, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen blamed China for Taiwan’s failure to conclude a vaccine purchase agreement with BioNTech.
The problem is that the German pharmaceutical company sold the rights to develop and distribute the vaccine not only in mainland China, but also in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan to China's Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group.
Taipei said it did not want to buy the vaccines from Fosun because it feared the doses were produced in China, therefore without certain safety standards. Beijing responded by accusing the Tsai administration of politicising the fight against the pandemic.
Beijing considers Taiwan a rebel province, and has never ruled out the use of force to take it.
The island has been de facto independent since 1949, when Chiang Kai-shek's nationalist (Kuomintang) forces fled the mainland after losing the civil war against the Communists. At the same time, it maintained the claim that it was the heir to the Republic of China founded in 1912.
Foxconn and TSMC have specified that the purchase contract was signed with Fosun, but the vaccines will come directly from Germany.
The Taiwanese government has signed contracts to buy five million doses from Moderna and 10 million from AstraZeneca. It is also expected to receive 4.8 million doses through the World Health Organisation's COVAX programme. However, only 2.2 million doses have arrived so far, to which must be added 4.9 million doses donated by Japan and the United States.