Taiwan has asked Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Foxconn to buy 10 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines on behalf of the government.

The move comes after Taiwan accused China of interfering with its efforts to buy vaccines, as the virus starts to spread across the country.

TSMC Fab 5
– Wikimedia Commons/Peellden

The country managed to control the spread of Covid-19 for most of 2020, but an outbreak in May 2021 has quickly spread across the island.

The virus threatens to disrupt Taiwan's semiconductor manufacturing businesses, responsible for the majority of the world's cutting edge chip production. Earlier this month, chip tester King Yuan Electronics shut production due to mounting cases.

TSMC said that it was enacting restrictions and quarantines to stop chip fabs from succumbing to the virus.

"Both TSMC and Foxconn's Yonglin Foundation proposed to donate five million [BioNtech] vaccine doses to Taiwan," government spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng said at a news conference, per Nikkei Asia.

Both companies will try to buy five million vaccines each, and hand them over to the government for distribution.

Japan has donated 1.24 million AstraZeneca vaccines to Taiwan. The US will provide 2.5 million vaccines to the island. Just 1.32 million of the island's 23.5 million people have received at least one shot.

The donations come after Taiwan accused China of blocking its attempts to buy vaccines, something Beijing denies.

“We had almost completed the contract signing with the German manufacturer at one point, but it has been delayed till now because China has interfered,” President Tsai Ing-wen said in late May.

China claims that Taiwan is part of its territory, and Taiwan is not a formal member of the World Health Organization.

This week, Taiwanese state staff in Hong Kong began leaving the administrative region after the government demanded its officials sign a document supporting Beijing’s claim to Taiwan.