Beijing has invited residents of Taiwan to visit China for vaccinations in a move that appears to be arousing the democratically elected government of Taipei.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement on Friday that Taiwanese residents were welcome to be inoculated as long as they followed social distancing measures, Reuters reported. While Beijing has closed its borders to most international travelers, it claims sovereignty over the autonomous island of Taiwan; Taiwanese with certain permits can still enter the People’s Republic.
The World Health Organization recently approved the Chinese-developed Sinopharm and Sinovac shots for emergency use during the pandemic, despite doubts about their effectiveness against symptomatic infection.
While China has administered more than 800 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, Taiwan is a sluggish start. The island with approx. 23.5 million people who had been a model for coronavirus confinement until a recent increase in infections have inoculated only approx. 3 percent of the population.
Taiwan recently received over 1.2 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from Japan. The United States, Taiwan’s main ally, has also promised at least 750,000 shots.
Beijing has offered to send Chinese-made vaccines to Taiwan, which prevent the import of Chinese pharmaceuticals. In its statement, the Taiwan Affairs Office called on Taipei to “quickly remove artificial barriers to mainland vaccines sent to Taiwan and allow the broad masses of Taiwanese compatriots to receive the safe and highly effective mainland vaccines.”
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has accused Beijing of blocking at least one vaccine deal that her government had hoped to sign with a European drug maker.
The Taiwan Affairs Office said at least 62,000 Taiwanese were vaccinated by Beijing on May 31, although polls in Taiwan have shown that only a small minority would choose Chinese shots.