China accuses Taiwan of ‘political manipulation’ after Taipei hints Beijing was behind failed Covid jab purchase

China’s Foreign Ministry has hit back at Taiwan, accusing it of “hyping up political issues” after the Taiwanese health minister implied Beijing was responsible for the collapse of a deal for BioNTech to supply doses to Taipei.

Speaking on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying dismissed accusations that Beijing had anything to do with Taipei’s failed vaccine purchase. “We wish to provide necessary assistance to Taiwanese compatriots in their fight against the epidemic,” Hua stated. 

The spokeswoman added that China attaches “great importance” to the health of the Taiwanese people, and slammed Taiwan’s ruling party – the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) – for their allegations.  

“The DPP authorities should abandon the use of the epidemic as an excuse for political manipulation and political hype. Instead, they should focus to really promote the health and well-being of the people in Taiwan; do some real things!” asserted Hua.

The comments come after Taiwan’s Health Minister Chen Shih-chung subtly blamed China on Wednesday over Taipei’s failed attempt to purchase five million shots of the BioNTech/Pfizer jab in late 2020.Chen claimed a deal arranged in December fell through “because someone doesn’t want Taiwan to be too happy.” 

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In a statement released on Thursday, BioNTech said it was “committed” to supplying its vaccine to Taiwan and that discussions were still ongoing. 

“BioNTech is committed to help bring an end to the pandemic for people across the world and we intend to supply Taiwan with our vaccine as part of this global commitment,” the German firm’s statement said. 

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Taiwan has to date escaped the worst of the pandemic, registering 940 Covid-19 cases and nine deaths, largely due to its decision to close borders and impose strict quarantine measures. 

Taipei has recently announced deals to secure 200,000 AstraZeneca jabs through Covax, which is expected in March, and 5.05 million doses of the Moderna vaccine which are expected to be delivered in May or June.

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