Tokyo donates 1.2 million vaccines to Taipei, sparking Beijing's ire

The doses of AstraZeneca arrived yesterday on the island. A success for President Tsai Ing-wen, criticized by China in blame game. So far only 3% of the Taiwanese population has been vaccinated.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Japan has donated 1.2 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Taiwan, sparking Chinese ire. The shipment arrived yesterday at the Taipei airport and was accompanied by the words of the Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi: " "Such an important partnership and friendship with Taiwan is reflected in this offer."The Japanese minister also cited the help that Taipei had offered to the Japanese population immediately after the 2011 tsunami.

The load of doses reached its destination through the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association. The Japanese country has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which China considers a "rebel province".

Tokyo has 120 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine, which it has not used yet. The administration was blocked because it is feared that the injections could cause thrombosis.

Thanks to this donation, the availability of vaccines in Taiwan has doubled. So far only 3% of the local population has been vaccinated. Yesterday there were 474 new cases of Covid-19.

The Japanese donation has been presented as a success for President Tsai Ing-wen, who has been the subject of recent criticism from the opposition party Kuomintang. The leader of the Democratic Progressive Party had resisted pressure, internal and external, from those who wanted her to cooperate with China to procure vaccines. Beijing had offered Taiwan doses, which they refused because they were considered unsafe.

The Taipei government has accused the Chinese leadership of blocking an order of millions of doses from Pfizer-BioNTech. China denied the allegations, saying Taiwan lied about it.

"Taiwanese authorities, driven by their selfish political gains, have engaged in political manipulation over the vaccine issue," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.