Jun 6, 2021 - World

U.S. donating COVID vaccines to Taiwan amid reports China blocking doses

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) speaks to a reporter outside the U.S. Capitol on June 01, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth outside the U.S. Capitol last Tuesday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The U.S. will donate 750,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) announced after arriving in the capital, Taipei, on a bipartisan congressional visit Sunday.

Why it matters: The island state is facing spiking coronavirus cases, and officials say their efforts to obtain vaccines are being impeded by China's government, which considers Taiwan to be part of its territory.

  • The visit by Duckworth and Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Ak) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) is likely to raise the ire of China's government, which reacted with fury to then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar's trip to Taiwan last August.

Driving the news: The donation is part of President Biden's initiative to share COVID-19 vaccines globally.

What they're saying: "We are here as friends, because we know that Taiwan is experiencing a challenging time right now, which was why it was especially important for the three of us to be here in a bipartisan way," Duckworth said, per AP.

  • "It was critical to the United States that Taiwan be included in the first group to receive vaccines, because we recognize your urgent need, and we value this partnership."
  • Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, who met the senators at Tapei's airport, said officials would have to "overcome obstacles to ensure that these life-saving medicine are delivered free from troubles of Beijing," AP reports.
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