The United States is increasing its aid to Taiwan with 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses shipped as the island sees increasing case numbers.
The United States is sending 2.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine to Taiwan instead of the 750,000 first promised. Washington is sending the doses in the face of China, which claims the island as its territory and has offered to send vaccines. The Taiwanese government doubts the safety of the Chinese delivered vaccines.
A plane carrying the doses left from Nashville and is set to arrive in Taiwan on Sunday, according to Reuters. State Department spokesman Ned Price later tweeted that the plane carrying the vaccines had departed.
"We are not allocating these doses, or delivering these doses, based on political or economic conditions. We are donating these vaccines with the singular objective of saving lives," the senior official said. "Our vaccines do not come with strings attached," the official said, adding Taiwan had "faced unfair challenges in its efforts to acquire vaccines on the global marketplace."
Taiwan's deal to purchase vaccines from a German pharmaceutical company fell through after supposed meddling from the mainland communist government. China has denied the accusation, stating that Taiwan is free to obtain the vaccines through Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group, which is licensed to sell the vaccine in China and its territories.
"We believe that these attempts by China to block purchases, for political purposes, are reprehensible," the senior Biden administration official told Reuters. Six percent of Taiwan's population has received a single COVID-19 vaccine dose.
China is ramping up pressure on Taiwan and its allies, now at just 15 countries. The United States does not have formal relations with Taiwan but does serve as an informal protector. The Chinese military frequently tests the limits of Taiwanese sovereignty with reports of multiple incursions by the Chinese air force this week.