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China Blasts Taiwan Over Efforts to Help Ally Paraguay Get Vaccines

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 4/8/2021 Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- China slammed Taiwan over its efforts to help one of its few remaining allies get coronavirus shots, the latest squabbling over vaccines between the two sides of the strait.

“We have to warn the Taiwan authorities that the vaccine is a weapon to fight the pandemic and save lives, not a tool for political maneuvers,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular press briefing Thursday in Beijing.

“Any attempt to seek Taiwan independence through vaccines or money diplomacy will not succeed,” he added.

On Wednesday, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said Taipei had been talking to “like-minded countries,” including India, the United States and Japan about sending vaccines to Paraguay. India had already shipped 100,000 doses to the South American nation, Wu said, and would deliver 100,000 more.

a man holding a phone: Taiwan Donates Key Covid Drugs To Last South American Ally Paraguay © Bloomberg Taiwan Donates Key Covid Drugs To Last South American Ally Paraguay

A healthcare worker administers a Covid-19 vaccine in Asuncion, Paraguay, on March 26.

Photographer: Maria Magdalena Arrellaga/Bloomberg

The Paraguayan government said last month that it was approached with offers of Chinese-made vaccines in exchange for breaking ties with Taiwan. The offers came from individuals “whose legitimacy and ties to the government of the People’s Republic of China are not proven,” Paraguay’s foreign ministry said.

Wu said China had been “flexing its muscles” with vaccine diplomacy. Paraguay is one of just 15 nations that recognizes the government in Taipei.

A shipment of vaccines made by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. arrived Tuesday in El Salvador, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The Central American country stopped recognizing the government in Taipei in favor of Beijing in 2018.

See: Why Taiwan Is the Biggest Risk for a U.S.-China Clash: QuickTake

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in March that the Asian nation is “always honorable and above board” with its offers for vaccine help. She characterized the episode involving Paraguay as “a typical malicious piece of disinformation.”

India is a member of a grouping known as the Quad, which also includes the U.S., Australia and Japan. Leaders from those four nations met last month, in part to discuss ways to counter China’s growing economic and military influence.

China’s ruling Communist Party sees Taiwan as its territory, which must be seized by force if necessary. Taipei rejects the claim, saying Taiwan is already a de facto sovereign nation.

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