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Taiwan says China seeking political gains in lieu of providing COVID-19 vaccines

ANI | Updated: Jun 04, 2021 15:19 IST

Taipei [Taiwan], June 4 (ANI): Taiwan's foreign minister Joseph Wu on Thursday remarked that China is seeking political gains abroad in lieu of providing COVID-19 vaccines and other pandemic assistance, partly to increase pressure on the self-governing island.
In a video conference with the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, Wu said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders further exploited the pandemic to impose their political agenda on many others, reported Washington Post.
China's 'vaccine diplomacy' is also creating divisions among countries in Central and South America, giving Beijing an opportunity to exert its influence in the Western Hemisphere, he said.
"China then uses this partnership to lure or pressure those allies of Taiwan and the US to lean toward Beijing. Through these maneuverings, China is trying to gain political influence in the region at the cost of Taiwan and the US," the Taiwanese foreign minister said.
Underlining that Beijing has aggressively used its economic might in recent years to poach Taiwan's few remaining allies, Wu further mentioned that the country had already left a "trail of debt, corruption and an erosion of democratic governance" in some countries in Asia, Africa and Europe that agreed to Chinese financing for ports, railways and other infrastructure projects under leader Xi Jinping's signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Though China has sold millions of COVID-19 vaccines abroad, Chinese companies, especially Sinopharm have faced criticism over a lack of transparency in sharing data, reported Washington Post.
With regards to Taipei, China has shut Taiwan out of an increasing number of international organizations, including the WHO, and has blocked Taiwan's cooperation with the UN organization's anti-pandemic efforts, including the COVAX initiative, Wu said.
However, a spokesperson for the Chinese government's Taiwan Affairs Office, Ma Xiaoguang said China had "repeatedly expressed willingness to try its best to help Taiwan compatriots fight the virus, and help them use the WHO-endorsed mainland vaccines as soon as possible."
Along with the diplomatic pressure, China has been increasing its threat to use military force to bring Taiwan under its control by holding military exercises and sending military aircraft near the island.
Wu further said that Taiwan's government and citizenry are "absolutely committed to self defense" and the administration is working to boost its military capabilities, including through the purchase of weapons from the United States, Washington Post reported.
Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades. (ANI)