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Taiwan's president defends private attempts to import COVID vaccines

Foxconn founder held holiday weekend discussions with Ministry of Health and Welfare

President Tsai Ing-wen (Facebook, tsaiingwen photo) 

President Tsai Ing-wen (Facebook, tsaiingwen photo) 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) thanked Foxconn Technology founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) Thursday (June 17) for clarifying that her government is not hampering attempts by private groups to import COVID-19 vaccines into Taiwan.

The Taiwanese tycoon has been trying to secure 5 million BioNTech vaccine doses directly from Germany, but his efforts have been met with the vaccine maker's refusal to deal with non-governmental groups and claims by China’s Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Co. that it holds the distribution rights for Taiwan.

In a statement on Facebook Wednesday (June 16), Gou said Ministry of Health and Welfare officials had sacrificed their Dragon Boat Festival holiday to meet with him and his team to discuss his efforts. Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) had phoned him personally late Sunday night (June 13) to pledge his cooperation, according to Gou.

President Tsai took the billionaire’s comments as support against allegations that the government is trying to block deals by private entities, CNA reported.

On her Facebook page, the president thanked Gou for his campaign but cautioned that importing COVID vaccines is not as easy as buying food at the supermarket. The process is complicated and involves multilateral discussions and international politics, she said.

Private efforts to help Taiwan withstand the onslaught of the coronavirus should not be dismissed or criticized, Tsai commented, as attacks do not help prevent infections.

Updated : 2021-07-30 06:32 GMT+08:00