Major Taiwanese tech companies have signed an agreement to purchase 10 million doses of vaccines for Taiwan, avoiding months of complicated geopolitical disputes between Beijing and Taipei.
The $ 350 million purchase of German manufacturer BioNTech is split between TSMC, the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer, and Foxconn, one of the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturers, and their charitable foundation. The two companies will donate the vaccines to Taiwan’s epidemic central command center for distribution.
The convoluted agreement, signed on Sunday, closes the circle of a saga that linked China’s long-standing but rejected claim on Taiwan with the island’s desperate need for vaccines, and allows Taiwan to procure the China-linked vaccines without that the government has to deal with directly. with China.
Taiwan suffers from a severe vaccine shortage, largely due to global supply problems, but it has also accused Beijing of scuttling an initial deal to secure 5 million doses directly from BioNTech. Beijing denies the accusation, saying that Shanghai-based Fosun Pharmaceuticals had the exclusive distribution rights for the region, including Taiwan, and that Taiwan could pass through them.
But accepting vaccines made or donated in China would be “the kiss of death” politically for Taiwan’s ruling party, analyst Drew Thompson said last month. Although it never ruled Taiwan, the Communist Party of China (CCP) government claims it as a province, which it promises to retake. The CCP has recently increased pressure and military intimidation of the island and its occupants.
Taiwan has rejected China’s offers as false altruism. China has accused Taiwan of putting politics above its people, while also criticizing the doses donated by the United States and Japan as foreign interference.
Sunday’s deal will bring much-needed doses to Taiwan without inflaming national or regional tensions. While Fosun claims exclusive distribution rights for Taiwan, the deal appears to have satisfied all sensitivities. A statement from BioNTech’s chief executive said the doses would be manufactured in Europe, while Foxconn founder Terry Guo said the vaccines will come “directly from the German factory.”
“We are very pleased to see that this vaccine developed jointly by Fosun Pharameceuticals and BioNTech can play a positive role in the prevention and control of epidemic situations in Taiwan,” Fosun said in a statement.
“We will work together with our partners to make safe and effective vaccines available to Taiwan as soon as possible, safeguard the health and safety of fellow Taiwanese and help them return to normal life as soon as possible.”
Taiwan is responding to its only major outbreak of the pandemic, after the Alpha strain spread across the island, infecting some 13,000 people and killing more than 700. Only 0.3% of the population has been fully vaccinated, while at least 14% have received at least one dose. Its current supply of vaccines is supported largely by donations from Japan and the United States.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism