TAIPEI, Taiwan — China is seeking political benefits overseas in exchange for supplying vaccinations and other pandemic help, according to Taiwan’s foreign minister, partly to raise pressure on Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory.
Leaders of Beijing’s Communist Party “further used the epidemic to push their political agenda on many others,” according to the report “In a video conference with the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, Joseph Wu remarked.
According to Wu, China’s “vaccine diplomacy” is causing divides among Central and South American countries, allowing Beijing to wield influence in the Western Hemisphere.
Beijing is giving “those who are prepared to embrace political collaboration with Beijing” access to its domestically manufactured vaccines, other anti-coronavirus tools, and development financing.
“China then utilizes this alliance to entice or coerce Taiwanese and American friends to align with Beijing. China is attempting to establish political influence in the area at the expense of Taiwan and the United States through these maneuverings.”
China claims that its aid comes without political strings attached, but in recent years it has aggressively exploited its economic strength to capture Taiwan’s few remaining allies and weaken the influence of the United States and other democracies.
According to Wu, China has already left a “trail of debt, corruption, and an erosion of democratic governance” in some Asian, African, and European countries that agreed to Chinese financing for ports, railways, and other infrastructure projects as part of President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative, which has boosted China’s international influence.
China has exported hundreds of millions of coronavirus vaccine doses and given millions more, primarily to African poorer countries. The World Health Organization has awarded two Chinese-developed vaccine emergency approval, but the businesses, notably Sinopharm, have been chastised for a lack of transparency in data sharing.
According to Wu, China has expelled Taiwan from a growing number of international organizations, including the WHO, and has prevented Taiwan’s participation in the UN’s anti-pandemic activities, such as the COVAX program, which delivers vaccinations to middle- and low-income nations.
He did say, however, that Taiwan is receiving more international political backing to become a member or observer of the WHO.
“You are assisting the Taiwanese people, which we much appreciate,” Wu said.
China did not respond immediately to Wu’s remarks, but a spokesperson for the government’s Taiwan Affairs Office denounced reports that China was intervening to block the delivery of vaccines to Taiwan as an attempt by the island’s government to shift blame for a recent surge in local cases on Wednesday.
According to Ma Xiaoguang, China has “repeatedly stated willingness to do all in its power to assist Taiwanese compatriots in fighting the virus, and to assist them in using WHO-endorsed mainland vaccinations as quickly as feasible.”
Taiwan prohibits the import of medicinal items from China, and Wu stated that the island will shortly launch its own vaccine made domestically.
In addition to diplomatic pressure, China has increased its threat of using military force to annex Taiwan by performing military drills and sending military aircraft close to the island. Taiwan’s government and citizens, according to Wu, are “totally dedicated to self-defense.” “and the administration is seeking to improve the country’s military capabilities, particularly by purchasing weapons from the US.
During a civil war in 1949, Taiwan broke away from mainland China and has never been administered by China’s governing Communists.
Wu also charged Beijing with intentionally inflaming tensions in the South and East China Seas.
China is using “all available tools” to create a situation on the verge of a big conflict, “Wu said.
Despite the lack of official diplomatic contacts, he underlined the closeness of links between Japan and Taiwan, a former Japanese colony.
“The ideals of freedom, democracy, human rights protection, and the rule of law are shared by Taiwan and Japan, “Wu said.