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U.S. senators urge faster delivery of COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan

2021-06-11
Focus Taiwan
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Senators Edward Markey (left) and Mitt Romney. Images taken from senate.gov
Senators Edward Markey (left) and Mitt Romney. Images taken from senate.gov

Washington, June 9 (CNA) Two U.S. senators on Wednesday called on the Biden Administration to speed up delivery of 750,000 COVID-19 vaccines it promised to send to Taiwan to help combat a surge in domestic coronavirus cases.

In a joint statement, Senators Edward Markey and Mitt Romney said Taiwan offered a helping hand to the U.S. last year by providing personal protective equipment to frontline health workers across America, "at a time of our greatest need during the pandemic" and the U.S. must do the same now amid the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Taiwan.

"We call upon the Biden Administration to expedite its commitment to supply 750,000 vaccines to Taiwan, stand ready to field additional requests from Taipei, and allot doses for use by the Taiwanese Armed Forces," they said.

The senators' joint statement was released after the U.S. pledged to donate 750,000 vaccine doses to Taiwan on Sunday, though it did not say when the delivery would be made.

The size of the pledge was confirmed during a brief visit to Taiwan by American Senators Tammy Duckworth, Dan Sullivan and Christopher Coons on Sunday morning, and is part of Washington's plan to share at least 80 million vaccine doses globally.

Taiwan was the first country for which the U.S. officially announced the number of vaccine doses to be donated after making public its plan to share 80 million COVID-19 vaccine doses with countries by the end of June.

In its June 3 announcement, the White House said that 19 million of the first 25 million doses will be distributed through the COVAX program.

Of those, 7 million doses will go to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan and Pacific Island nations.

The White House statement did not specify how many doses each country would get or when exactly the vaccines would be delivered.

Meanwhile, the two senators' statement on Wednesday also announced that a subcommittee hearing titled "Strength Through Partnership: Building the U.S.-Taiwan Relationship" is scheduled for June 17, "to explore ways to grow U.S.-Taiwan ties and build on our already strong relationship."

"We will seek avenues to bolster Taiwan's defenses to deter armed aggression, and just as importantly, discuss how we bolster Taiwan's standing in the world to withstand Beijing's efforts to deny it partners overseas and access to the international community," the joint statement said.

"We look forward to hearing from the Administration about what practical steps can be taken to strengthen the foundational commitments of the United States to Taiwan and promote Taiwan's remarkable democratic success story in a region where authoritarianism is on the rise," it added.

Markey is chairperson of the Senate's Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, with Romney the committee's ranking member.

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