China has called on the United States to avoid “political manipulation” on the pretext of the coronavirus vaccine aid following Washington’s delivery of a huge batch of COVID-19 shots to Chinese Taipei.
"We urge the US side not to seek political manipulation in the name of vaccine assistance and stop interfering in China's domestic affairs,” Zhao Lijian, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a daily news briefing in the capital Beijing on Monday.
The comment was made a day after the administration of US President Joe Biden sent 2.5 million doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine to the self-ruled Island.
The newly arrived doses more than doubled the number of total vaccines that have so far come to Chinese Taipei, including 1.24 million AstraZeneca shots donated by Japan earlier in the month.
The Biden administration had initially promised to donate 750,000 doses to Chinese Taipei, but it increased that number amid simmering tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Chinese Taipei has accused Beijing of trying to block the island from accessing vaccines internationally, an allegation China has rejected.
Beijing has offered the island Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccines, but the government in Taipei has declined to authorize their import, expressing safety concerns.
Taipei, which efficiently managed to weather the initial COVID-19 outbreak last year, is now facing its most serious flare-up with over 10,000 cases since the end of April.
The island remains China's most sensitive territorial issue and a major bone of contention with Washington. China has repeatedly warned the US against any formal relations with the government in Taipei.
Beijing has sovereignty over Chinese Taipei under the "One China" policy, which is in principle recognized by almost the entire international community.
But successive US administrations and other Western governments have been seeking independent relations with Chinese Taipei. The Biden administration has, likewise, taken a hostile posture against China, including over Chinese Taipei.
Recently, the United States facilitated easier diplomatic contact with the self-ruled island.
Biden dispatched a delegation to the island in April to “signal” his “personal” commitment to the secessionist government there.
The US has been selling weapons to, staging shows of military force around, and facilitating diplomatic contact with the self-ruled island, in violation of Chinese sovereignty and its own stated policy.
China has in response ramped up military patrols and drills near the island in recent months.