WASHINGTON — With the U.S. gearing up to share COVID-19 vaccines around the globe, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., announced in Taipei the U.S. was sending 750,000 doses to Taiwan, her office said on Saturday.
Before arriving in Taiwan, Duckworth, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, visited South Korea, meeting with the nation’s foreign and defense ministers. She is traveling on this official trip with Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-AK.
President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced the U.S. will be sharing at least 80 million vaccines globally by the end of June.
Duckworth’s vaccine diplomacy is part of the U.S. efforts to strengthen ties with Taiwan. The trip by the senators, and the vaccine allocation, may ruffle China. China claims Taiwan, a democracy, is part of China. The U.S. has a close, but unofficial relationship with Taiwan.
According to Reuters, because of a vaccine shortage, only about 3% of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people have been fully vaccinated. Reuters also reported that Taiwan has complained about China blocking the island from getting the vaccines from other places, which China denies.
Duckworth made the vaccine announcement after landing at Taipei’s airport. Duckworth was born in Thailand; her mother is the daughter of Chinese immigrants to Thailand whose family fled Communist China. Her father was from Virginia.
The senators met with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, and Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng to discuss economic, security and COVID-19 issues, Duckworth’s office said.