The Chinese government said on Friday it was welcoming Taiwanese to come for the COVID-19 vaccine and called on Taiwan to remove obstacles and allow its people to receive the “very effective” Chinese vaccines.
China claims to have ruled Taiwan democratically as its own territory and has repeatedly offered to send vaccines to the island, which is battling a spike in domestic infections, but has expressed concern about the safety of the injections Chinese and did not allow them to be used.
The Chinese Taiwan Affairs Bureau said in a statement that two vaccines made in China had received emergency use authorization from the World Health Organization and its injections were being used or approved by more than 90 countries, showing their safety and effectiveness.
Taiwanese can come to China to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as long as they strictly adhere to China’s pandemic control measures, the bureau said.
He urged the government of Taiwan to “quickly remove artificial obstacles to sending mainland vaccines to Taiwan and allow the vast mass of Taiwanese compatriots to receive safe and highly effective mainland vaccines.”
About 62,000 Taiwanese had been vaccinated in China as of May 31, he added, although many Taiwanese already live and work there.
Only 3% of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people have received at least one injection, although millions of doses are on order. Japan donated 1.24 million doses of AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) last week and the United States has pledged 750,000 doses, which have yet to arrive.
Yet China’s offer is unlikely to be attractive to many Taiwanese. A poll conducted last month by Taipei National Chengchi University showed that most people would be unwilling to receive a Chinese vaccine.
A Taiwanese security official investigating Chinese activities told Reuters the offer was another example of Beijing’s campaign of influence to influence public opinion on the island.
“It might be appealing to some people, but the problem is that not many people can afford the costs,” the official said, highlighting the expense and quarantine weeks required to travel between Taiwan and China.
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