Dr. Twu Shiing-jer, one of Taiwan’s top public health officials, spoke out against the Chinese regime’s reported blocking of Taiwan from purchasing COVID-19 vaccines from the German biotechnology firm BioNTech in an exclusive interview with The Epoch Times on May 28.
Twu, chairman of Taiwan’s Development Center for Biotechnology and former health minister of Taiwan, compared authoritarian China’s reported interference in Taiwan’s vaccine purchases to its blocking of Taiwan from attending the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), which began this week. “This is completely the same [as the] WHA,” he stated. “China never cares about the health of Taiwan or the health of the whole world.”
This week, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen made a statement to confirm Beijing’s interference with democratic Taiwan’s planned vaccine purchases, saying, “As for Germany’s BioNTech, we were close to completing the contract with the original German plant, but because of China’s intervention, up to now there’s been no way to complete it.”
Before the pending contract was scuttled, BioNTech reportedly took issue with Taiwan’s use of the word “country” to describe itself in a drafted press release that would have announced a deal.
Twu, who has also previously served as director-general of Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC), stated, “Definitely Taiwan is a country,” and said of China’s reported interference in Taiwan’s vaccine purchases, “It’s very bad. Because this is about health.”
Despite the Chinese regime’s reported obstruction of Taiwan’s planned vaccine purchases from BioNTech, Taiwan is receiving shipments of vaccines purchased from U.S.-based Moderna and UK-based AstraZeneca.
The Chinese firm Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group, which has an agreement with BioNTech to develop and commercialize BioNTech’s vaccine for the Chinese market, has offered to send China-made vaccines to Taiwan. But Twu said that this is a non-starter, citing Beijing’s ulterior motives and quality concerns surrounding Chinese-made vaccines.
“We can evaluate what vaccine is good or not good. If the Chinese communists say, ‘no, you should not buy that number-one- or number-two-[best] vaccine, you should use my vaccine, and this means that we are ‘tongbao’ [Mandarin for ‘compatriots’] or we want to help Taiwan’—this is completely wrong, because it’s political management,” Twu said. “Taiwan’s people think about vaccines or controlling the situation scientifically and democratically … we cannot accept the offering of bad vaccines from China.”
Twu also addressed China’s propagandistic exploitation of a recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Taiwan. This week, Zhu Fenglian, the spokeswoman of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, characterized the COVID-19 pandemic as ‘raging’ in Taiwan this week, even as deaths from COVID-19 in Taiwan, an island nation of 24 million, still total less than 100 more than one year after the pandemic began.
Twu noted that Taiwan is taking the recent increase in cases seriously and managing it scientifically.
“China tries to use this epidemic as a chance, [an] opportunity to attack our [pandemic] control. … This [increase in cases] is very serious in Taiwan, but if you compare to the other countries, maybe not so serious. But because we have been very good for almost one-and-a-half years, then suddenly the increase … as compared to before is more shocking for Taiwan’s people,” he said. “But I don’t think you can call it a surge or a big outbreak … I think Taiwan can go through this epidemic as [well] as before, because we are dealing with epidemic control by science, scientifically and democratically.”
On the subject of recent calls by the United States and other nations for investigations into the origins of COVID-19, Twu pointed to reports of the World Health Organization’s collusion with China during the pandemic, stating, “The WHO [World Health Organization] should have the responsibility to find out what is the origin of the virus …WHO doesn’t want to know the truth. They just politically manage the truth of the origin of the pandemic. … I hope that everyone in Taiwan and everyone in the whole world understands that WHO has a duty, has a responsibility to share good epidemic information, but they didn’t do this.”
Regarding Taiwan’s continued exclusion from the WHO and the WHA, Twu pointed to human rights.
“I think it’s a failure of the WHO. If they don’t accept Taiwan or invite Taiwan to the WHO as a member country, that is not good for the human rights of Taiwan and not good for the human rights of the whole world … the WHO should reconsider it,” he stated. “Taiwan is a country.”