India helps Taiwan’s ally Paraguay to get vaccines after Beijing pressure

South China Morning Post

Posted at Apr 08 2021 10:52 AM | Updated as of Apr 08 2021 10:53 AM

A nurse prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during a vaccination for medical workers in Taipei, Taiwan, March 22, 2021. Ann Wang, Reuters

Speaking on Wednesday, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said Beijing, which has been distributing in various places the vaccines it has developed, was "flexing its muscles" with its vaccine diplomacy, in particular in South and Central America, where Taiwan has five allies.

"If you look at those countries that are receiving the Chinese vaccines, whether it's Brazil or Chile or El Salvador, I think it's having lots of impact on our diplomatic allies," he said.

In Paraguay, Beijing was "very active" in saying to the public that if Paraguay severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan they would get millions of doses of Chinese vaccines, which put pressure on Taiwan to help, Wu said.

"In the last few weeks, we have been speaking to like-minded countries, including Japan, the United States, India ... and India fortunately has been able to provide some Covaxin vaccines to Paraguay," he said, referring to a shot developed by India's Bharat Biotech and a state research institute.

India has already shipped 100,000 doses to Paraguay and there would be another 100,000, Wu said.

Beijing has denied trying to entice Paraguay with vaccines.

Wu also noted the US' commitment to help provide vaccines worldwide.

"The most important trend is the Indian government who is willing to help, and the United States who has decided they want to help, and I think this is going to relieve a lot of pressure for a lot of countries."

India said it shipped 100,000 Covaxin doses to Paraguay on March 26 as a gift from the Indian government.

The US, India, Japan and Australia are working to counter China with a billion-dose vaccine pact.

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