From left, Department of North American Affairs Director-General Douglas Hsu, US senators Dan Sullivan and Tammy Duckworth, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu, US Senator Chris Coons and American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen stand in front of a US Air Force cargo plane at Taipei International Airport （Songshan airport） yesterday.
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
By Lu Yi-hsuan and Kayleigh Madjar / Staff reporter, with staff writer
The US is to donate 750,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan, a delegation of three US senators said in Taipei yesterday.
The delegation made the announcement during a brief stopover in Taiwan.
The White House on Thursday announced that it aims to donate at least 80 million doses globally by the end of this month. The donation would be part of the first tranche of 25 million doses.
“It was critical to the United States that Taiwan be included in the first group to receive vaccines, because we recognize your urgent need and we value this partnership,” US Senator Tammy Duckworth said in a brief address at Taipei International Airport （Songshan airport）, without mentioning the brand of the vaccines or when they were expected to arrive.
Duckworth was joined by US senators Dan Sullivan and Chris Coons in the three-hour visit, before departing back to South Korea at 10:30am. The Taipei visit was part of a larger tour of the Indo-Pacific region by the three senators.
The decision to make the donation followed consultations between the three lawmakers and White House staff, Duckworth said.
“In the early days of the pandemic, Taiwan came to our aid with supplies of PPE [personal protective equipment] and other donations that helped save American lives,” she said. “On behalf of the American people, we want to thank you for that.”
Duckworth also shared her personal reasons for wanting to visit, saying that her mother’s family was among those who fled China’s Guangdong Province on foot to escape communist rule, and her father’s family has served in the US military stretching back to the American Revolutionary War.
“My family and I know the price of freedom, and I’m here to tell you that the United States will not let you stand alone,” she said. “We will be by your side to make sure that the people of Taiwan have what they need to get to the other side of this pandemic and beyond.”
President Tsai Ing-wen （蔡英文） met with the delegation at the air force’s Songshan Command, where she thanked the senators and the White House for including Taiwan in the US’ first tranche of donations.
The vaccines are coming at a timely moment for Taiwan and once again demonstrate the “rock-solid” friendship between Taiwan and the US, she said.
The bipartisan group of senators has long shown staunch support for Taiwan.
Duckworth and Sullivan are members of the US Senate Committee on Armed Services and have repeatedly voted in favor of Taiwan, while Coons was a cosponsor of the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act, and the Taiwan Assurance Act.
Coons is also a close friend of US President Joe Biden, making him the second of the president’s closest confidants to visit Taiwan in the past few months, following a visit by former US senator Chris Dodd in April.
The US plans to distribute three-quarters of the 80 million doses through the COVAX global vaccine sharing scheme, while the remaining one-quarter would be allocated to dealing with virus surges around the world, the White House said.
Additional reporting by Yang Chun-hui
US Senator Dan Sullivan, left, speaks next to US Senator Tammy Duckworth as President Tsai Ing-wen, second right, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu, right, listen in Taipei yesterday.
US Senator Dan Sullivan, a member of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, points to his mask, which has the phrase “Love from Taiwan” and the US and Taiwanese flags printed on it as a sign of Taiwan-US friendship, at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.
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