Like many nations, Paraguay faces an uphill battle to obtain coronavirus vaccines. But his search is complicated by strained relations between China on the one hand and Taiwan and the United States on the other.
The Paraguayan government has received offers of vaccines made in China in exchange for severing ties with Taiwan, the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement earlier this week. The ministry said the offers were made by people “whose legitimacy and ties to the government of the People’s Republic of China are unproven.”
Interior Minister Euclides Acevedo promised in a radio interview on Monday not to give in to the pressure, according to the local news site. Today. “We are not going to accept that they tell us: ‘We sell vaccines, but they break relations with Taiwan,'” Acevedo said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday that she was not aware of the source of the allegations, but said the country “was always honorable and frank” with its offers of support for vaccines. “About the specific incident you mentioned, I think it is a typical piece of malicious disinformation,” Hua told a regular news conference in Beijing.
The episode is the latest example of how geopolitics is infecting the global race for vaccines, with major powers dominating production and hogging supplies. Paraguay is one of the 15 diplomatic partners that recognize the government of Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, about Beijing.
The Communist Party of China claims Taiwan as its territory, despite never having ruled it, and has stepped up its efforts to poach the island’s diplomatic allies since the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016. Tsai , who maintains that Taiwan is already a sovereign nation, and has sought to defend such relations while maintaining greater economic and security ties with the US.
“Vaccines should not be used as a tool for political manipulation,” said Alexander Yui, director general of Taiwan’s Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs. he said at a news conference on Tuesday. “We strongly oppose attempts by some parties to use the breakdown of relations between Taiwan and Paraguay as a precondition for receiving the Covid-19 vaccine from China.”
Hua, the spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, tried to blame Taiwan for the dispute. “We urge certain people in Taiwan to stop making petty moves or creating rumors or engaging in political manipulation,” he said.
Paraguay has been struggling to secure vaccine doses for its population of more than 7 million, although it recently announced that India and Qatar had promised to provide a total of 600,000 injections. Its first shipment of vaccines, just 36,000 doses obtained through Covax, arrived on March 19. Paraguay has registered more than 194,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 3,700 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. data.
After Panama, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic changed their ties with China, the United States has tried to avoid further diplomatic gains for Beijing in its own backyard. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed relations with Taipei during a March 14 call with Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez, highlighting “the importance of continuing to work with democratic regional and global partners, including Taiwan, to overcome this global pandemic, combat corruption, and increase transparency and accountability.”
Ricardo Chiu, official of the Taiwanese embassy in Asunción, told Paraguayan media earlier this month that Taiwan would not interfere in any discussion about vaccines produced in China. Chiu rejected the politicization of the fight against the pandemic, which he called “a human matter,” while noting that Taiwan expects its own vaccine to be ready by June.
– With the assistance of James Mayger