Thousands of Taiwan compatriots have received COVID-19 vaccines overseas through a program launched by the Chinese mainland to help Chinese living overseas to be inoculated, the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office said on Tuesday.
"No matter where Taiwan compatriots are and what difficulties they encounter, the motherland stands firmly behind them and is ready to do its utmost to provide assistance, especially under the current global COVID-19 epidemic situation," said Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for the office.
More than 1.7 million overseas Chinese in 160 countries have been inoculated with Chinese or foreign COVID-19 vaccines since the Spring Sprout program was launched in March, according to Foreign Ministry data released last week.
Countries offering vaccination arrangements for Taiwan compatriots include Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Bolivia, Brunei, Madagascar and Georgia, Zhu said.
The Chinese embassy in Thailand has helped more than 1,000 Taiwan compatriots in the country to get inoculated with mainland vaccines. The Chinese embassy in Georgia coordinated with the local government to make special arrangements to vaccinate Taiwan compatriots stranded in the country because of a COVID-19 outbreak, she said.
Taiwan compatriots living abroad can contact Chinese diplomatic missions for help through contact information published on their websites, Zhu said.
The mainland has also assisted overseas Taiwan compatriots in fighting COVID-19 through various manners, including providing psychological counseling services, distributing epidemic prevention materials and arranging temporary flights for them to return home, she added.
To resolve a vaccine shortage caused by the recent outbreak in Taiwan, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, an industry leader, and the Yonglin Foundation, which was established by Foxconn founder and CEO Terry Guo, signed an initial deal with Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group last week, island media reported.
Shanghai Fosun signed a contract with German company BioNTech in March 2020 to participate in the research and development of vaccine products and has exclusive rights to distribute the vaccines to the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.
Zhu said that the deal provided the only way for Taiwan to acquire BioNTech vaccines, and the company has already expressed its willingness to help Taiwan compatriots with vaccines.
"Any willing county, city, and nongovernmental organization and enterprise on the island can negotiate with Fosun for vaccines in accordance with normal business rules, and we hope that the people of Taiwan will be able to use the urgently needed vaccines as soon as possible," she said.