Category Archives: West Europe – Germany 🇩🇪

COVID-19: BioNTech reveals commitment to ‘supplying’ Taiwan with Pfizer vaccine.

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BioNTech has struck a deal with the Shanghai-based Fosun Pharmaceutical Group to bring the vaccine to China, including Taiwan.

Germany’s BioNTech said Thursday it still intends to provide Taiwan with coronavirus vaccine doses after the island’s health chief warned “political pressure” had scuppered a deal with the company.

Taiwanese health minister Chen Shih-Chung said Wednesday that negotiations with the German firm to acquire five million Pfizer/BioNTech shots fell through in December “because someone doesn’t want Taiwan to be too happy”.

His comments raised concerns China might be trying to hinder Taiwan’s inoculation drive.

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Authoritarian Beijing regards democratic and self-ruled Taiwan as its own territory and tries to keep the island diplomatically isolated — including keeping it locked out of the World Health Organization.

In a statement on Thursday, BioNTech said discussions to supply Taiwan with doses were still ongoing.

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“BioNTech is committed to help to bring an end to the pandemic for people across the world and we intend to supply Taiwan with our vaccine as part of this global commitment,” it said.

Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines are seen on a countertop at the Chiba Rosai Hospital in Ichihara, Chiba perfecture on February 17, 2021, as the country launches its inoculation campaign against the virus. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP)

The brief statement did not address Chen’s comments or explain why the December deal did not materialise.

BioNTech has struck a deal with the Shanghai-based Fosun Pharmaceutical Group to bring the vaccine to China, including Taiwan.

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Beijing has a long history of pressuring both Chinese and international companies when it wants to punish Taiwan.

It the first comments on the issue, China’s foreign ministry on Thursday accused Taiwan of “carrying out political manipulation and hyping up political issues”.

“We wish to provide necessary assistance Taiwanese compatriots in their fight against the epidemic,” spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters, without addressing whether China had played any role in the delayed December deal.

Foson has not responded to requests for comment.

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Taiwan has survived the pandemic largely unscathed — with fewer than 940 confirmed cases and nine deaths so far — by closing its borders early, imposing strict quarantine measures and rolling out the effective tracing.

But it has struggled to locate adequate vaccine supplies and only recently announced a supply of five million doses by American pharmaceutical giant Moderna and 200,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine via COVAX.

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#Newsworthy

Germany warns of consequences over diplomat expulsions in Russia.

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Merkel said however that Berlin’s stance on the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia remained “unaffected”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday condemned as “unjustified” Russia’s expulsion of European diplomats for participating in unauthorised demonstrations in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

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“We consider these expulsions to be unjustified. We believe it is yet another aspect that can be observed right now of Russia being quite far from the rule of law,” she said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said earlier that the move would “not go unanswered”.

Merkel said however that Berlin’s stance on the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia remained “unaffected”.

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Nord Stream 2 is a 10-billion-euro ($11-billion) pipeline that will run beneath the Baltic Sea and is set to double Russian natural-gas shipments to Germany, Europe’s largest economy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a press conference following talks via video conference with Germany’s state premiers on coronavirus restrictions at the Chancellery in Berlin on December 2, 2020. (Photo by Markus Schreiber / POOL / AFP)

The United States and several European countries such as Poland have criticised the project, saying it will increase German and EU dependence on Russia for critical gas supplies.

France recently joined in a call for Berlin to abandon the project in protest over Navalny’s detention in Moscow.

At a joint video news conference after talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, Merkel acknowledged that the pipeline was a “controversial project” but “solutions can be found together” on the issue.

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The German leader also stressed that it was important to keep a channel open for discussions with Russia, given that it was a key player on many geopolitical issues.

“Despite deep-reaching differences, it is nevertheless strategically advisable to stay in talks with Russia,” said the German leader, noting that cooperation was required on many issues including Libya, Syria and Belarus.

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#Newsworthy