Taiwan is pressing the U.S. for help with COVID-19 vaccines, as it struggles to contain a worrying new outbreak.
Taiwan reported several straight days of triple-digit infections this week, after largely keeping the virus at bay for months.
That’s led to its stock of vaccines running out rapidly, and only 1% of its population vaccinated.
To date, only about 700,000 shots have arrived, all of which come from AstraZeneca.
But the battle against the virus there – and its lack of vaccines – is complicated by its politics.
China, which claims the democratic island as its own, has offered its domestically-developed vaccines to Taiwan through the COVAX vaccine sharing program.
But Chinese vaccines are prohibited under Taiwanese law.
Taiwanese health minister Chen Shih-chung said Friday he had spoken to his American counterpart, Xavier Becerra, about medical cooperation.
Becerra, in turn, said he would forward the matter onto U.S. President Joe Biden.
It’s the highest level contact between the two governments under the Biden administration.
China’s foreign ministry quickly condemned the move on Friday, claiming that Taiwan was using COVID-19 as a tool for political manipulation.
The U.S. has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and Beijing regularly condemns any high-level meetings between Washington and Taipei.
Taiwan has said it expects to receive a total of over 1 million AstraZeneca shots under COVAX.