TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A former American defense official has called for vaccine support for Taiwan, which came to the aid of the U.S. during the early stage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Randall Schriver, chairman of the Project 2049 Institute and former assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, issued a statement Wednesday (June 2) pleading with the Biden administration to prioritize Taiwan in its plans to distribute 80 million vaccine doses worldwide.
Schriver listed three reasons why “Taiwan merits special consideration” beyond Washington’s commitment to the country under the Taiwan Relations Act.
Describing the “uniquely difficult political obstacle” confronting Taiwan, Schriver said China has sought to prevent Taiwan from accessing vaccines, including by meddling with a procurement contract. The fact that Taiwan is a densely populated country also makes it particularly vulnerable to an outbreak, in addition to its exclusion from the World Health Organization.
Meanwhile, the former official suggested it’s time the U.S. reciprocated Taiwan’s aid during the early phases of COVID-19, when it rapidly mobilized to ship critical protective equipment to the American people. “They need our help. We urge the Biden Administration to answer,” Schriver wrote.
Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) revealed last week that the vaccine purchase deal with German company BioNTech fizzled out in January after the company had requested that Taiwan remove the word “country” from the agreement’s press release before unilaterally deciding to postpone the deal indefinitely.