Taiwan’s charge of 'coercing' Paraguay with COVID vaccines riles China

K J M Varma
·2-min read

Beijing, Apr 8 (PTI) China has accused Taiwan of furthering its independence goal with COVID-19 vaccine diplomacy, a day after it lauded India for providing one lakh jabs to its diplomatic ally Paraguay after Beijing allegedly put pressure on the South American country to ditch the estranged island in exchange for vaccines.

Beijing considers Taiwan to be a part of China and says it should unite with the Chinese mainland. Paraguay is among 15 countries that still recognise the self-governing territory of Taiwan as a sovereign nation.

Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu on Wednesday accused Beijing of offering Chinese-made coronavirus vaccines to pressure Paraguay to sever ties with the estranged island. Wu told the media in Taipei that China had promised millions of doses for Paraguay which has been hit hard by the pandemic. Accusing China of 'vaccine diplomacy', Wu had said, 'the Chinese government was very active in saying if the Paraguay government is willing to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan, they will be able to get quite a few million vaccine doses from China.' “In the last few weeks, we have been speaking to like-minded countries, including Japan, the United States, India … and India, fortunately, has been able to provide some Covaxin vaccines to Paraguay,” he said. India has already shipped 100,000 doses of Covaxin jabs made by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech to Paraguay and there would be another 100,000, Wu said. Countering Wu’s allegations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhou Lijian told a media briefing here that China’s COVID-19 pandemic cooperation with other countries is “above board and open”.

“This is totally different from what Taiwan authorities have done. They are seeking their ulterior goals with money,' he said. “We have to warn the Taiwan authorities that vaccines are a weapon to fight the epidemic and save lives not a tool for political manoeuvre. Any attempt to seek Taiwan independence through vaccines or dollar diplomacy will not succeed,' he said. PTI KJV PMS AKJ PMS