Taiwan’s Last South American Ally Gets Helicopters, Covid Drugs

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Taiwan donated helicopters and Covid-19 drugs to its one remaining South American ally this week amid reports that China is pressuring Paraguay to break with Taipei in exchange for vaccines.

Taiwan is also helping Paraguay “find channels” to negotiate access to vaccines, Taiwanese ambassador Jose Chih-Chen Han told reporters in Asuncion.

With its hospitals overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients, Paraguay is scouring the globe for vaccines after obtaining just 63,000 shots for its 7 million people since mid-February.

Paraguay is one of 15 countries that still recognize Taiwan’s government. China claims Taiwan as its sovereign territory and has stepped up efforts to poach the island’s diplomatic allies in recent years.

Paraguay’s Foreign Ministry said this week that undisclosed third parties seeking to broker a vaccine deal suggested that access to Chinese shots hinges on breaking diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Taiwan donated three military helicopters Thursday, and on Wednesday said it would provide surgical gowns and 190,000 doses of Covid-19 drugs Atracurio and Midazolam, which are in short
supply in Paraguay.

“We oppose taking advantage of vaccines to impose political conditions,” Ambassador Chih-Chen Han said when asked if Taiwan would object to Paraguay cutting a vaccine deal with China.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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