DPP’s politicizing of vaccine imports meets fierce rebuke from Taiwan business leaders based in Chinese mainland
Island needs 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines
Published: May 24, 2021 09:13 PM Updated: May 24, 2021 09:39 PM
The COVID19 vaccine BNT162b2 co-developed by Fosun Pharma and BioNTech  Photo: Courtesy of BioNTech

The COVID19 vaccine BNT162b2 co-developed by Fosun Pharma and BioNTech Photo: Courtesy of BioNTech


The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority in Taiwan Island which tried to politicize Chinese mainland-made coronavirus vaccines has met with fierce rebukes from business leaders based in the mainland.

Chen Shih-chung, head of Taiwan's health department, asserted there were no companies from the island applying to his department to purchase vaccines from the mainland, when commenting on news that a number of Taiwan companies - including Hon Hai Precision Industry Co - are to bring mainland-made vaccines to the island.

Chen said that the island is forbidden by regulations from importing mainland-made vaccines.

Shanghai-based pharmaceutical giant Fosun Pharma said on Saturday that it was willing to provide the island with BioNTech vaccines.

Some executives with Taiwan companies doing business in the mainland told the Global Times that they found Chen's remarks repugnant, while slamming the DPP's politicizing of vaccine imports.

Xue Qingde, a Taiwan-based businessman who began investing in Pingtan county, Fujian Province, more than a decade ago, told the Global Times on Monday that "his jaw dropped" when he heard about Chen's remarks. 

"The BioNTech vaccine is produced by Western companies and it is a fact that the current global vaccine market is a seller's market. While all countries and regions in the world are vying for vaccines, the Taiwan authority dares to refuse such a kind offer from Fosun. This is truly ridiculous," Xue said.

Xue said as Taiwan authority is erecting man-made hurdles to vaccine imports, it cannot be ruled out that some politicians are seeking to profiteer from locally developed and unproven vaccines. 

Wu Jiaying, chairman of the Taiwan Businessmen's Association in Xiamen, Fujian Province, told the Global Times on Monday that Taiwan firms' biggest difficulty in purchasing mainland vaccines is Taiwan's DPP authorities putting up obstacles.

Wu said that he would meet former KMT chairperson Hung Hsiu-chu at the end of the month to discuss the vaccine issue, while acknowledging that the chance of the DPP authorities accepting mainland vaccines is low.

Wang Jianmin, a Taiwan affairs expert in the mainland, said the Taiwan authority had led the island into a fiasco of vaccine shortages. The island became one of the most desperate markets in the world, crying for vaccines when its hopes of securing US and European vaccines were foiled.

Wang noted that the island needs 50 million vaccine doses and the island faces a significant shortfall. "Secessionists have hijacked the island," Wang said.

"I think Taiwan residents would be willing to take mainland vaccines from a scientific point of view, if they were not influenced by politics," a Taiwan resident based in Shanghai told the Global Times on Monday.

According to media reports, Taiwan has imported about 700,000 doses of vaccines from Europe and the COVAX platform. The island has not succeeded in securing any vaccines from the US, except for 200 doses of Moderna vaccine for tests.

The current legal system in Taiwan puts restrictions on vaccine imports from the mainland, Wang noted.

"However, such legal obstructions should be lifted as lawmaking is meant to protect people's lives. The DPP authority should not use the local law as an excuse to impose man-made political barriers on vaccine imports from the mainland," Wang said.

DPP's excuse in relation to imports of vaccines pales when confronted with its incompetency.

A source close to Fosun told the Global Times that the company began negotiating with relevant organizations in Taiwan for the island's imports of the BioNTech-Fosun vaccine before August 2020, at the same pace as Hong Kong and Macao. But no progress was made, although today the vaccine is widely used in Hong Kong and Macao.

Germany-based research company BNT provides the key technology and production supply of the vaccine named BNT162b2 - widely called Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the Western media -- while Fosun specializes in clinical trial design and execution, regulatory approval and commercializing the vaccine in the mainland.

"Fosun has the exclusive rights to sell the BNT vaccine to the greater China region, including Taiwan, while Pfizer has agency rights for the rest world. That means it is impossible for Taiwan to bypass Fosun to get the vaccine directly from Pfizer or BioNTech. That would be a breach of the agreement," said the source.

Another primary vaccine producer, Sinovac, told the Global Times on Monday that the company has not seen increased vaccine orders from Taiwan business agents or organizations since the most recent outbreak. 

In Hon Hai's plants in the mainland, workers are organized by the company to take mainland-made vaccines on a voluntary basis, the Global Times learned on Monday.