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Taiwan says China uses COVID-19 vaccines to press Paraguay to break ties

China, which has been exporting millions of doses COVID-19 vaccines mainly to developing countries around the world, has repeatedly denied that it uses them to gain diplomatic advantage.

By: Reuters | Taipei |
April 7, 2021 11:54:38 pm
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu speaks during a briefing Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in Taipei, Taiwan. Wu said that China's attempts at conciliation and military intimidation are sending "mixed signals" to people on the island China claims as its own territory to be won over peacefully or by force. (AP Photo)

Taiwan accused China on Wednesday of using an offer of COVID-19 vaccines to lure Paraguay, one of just 15 countries that formally recognise the self-governed island, to break off diplomatic relations.

China, which has been exporting millions of doses COVID-19 vaccines mainly to developing countries around the world, has repeatedly denied that it uses them to gain diplomatic advantage.

Taiwan said last month it was helping Paraguay, its sole ally in South America, to buy COVID-19 vaccines after protests there over the government’s handling of the health crisis.

Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said on Wednesday China had dangled vaccines as a lure to the Paraguay government.

“The Chinese government were very active in saying to the public that if the Paraguay government is willing to sever ties with Taiwan, they will be able to get quite a few million vaccines from China,” Wu said.

“It’s also generated a lot of pressure on us to find the necessary support for the Paraguay government,” he added.”In the last few weeks, we have been speaking to like-minded countries, including Japan, the United States, India, etc., and India fortunately has been able to provide some COVAXIN vaccines to Paraguay,” Wu said, referring to a shot developed by India’s Bharat Biotech and a state research institute.

India says it shipped 100,000 COVAXIN doses to Paraguay on March 26 as a gift from the Indian government.The United States, India, Japan and Australia are working to counter China with a billion-dose vaccine pact.

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