The United States has a chance here, an opportunity that it cannot botch. It's a chance to show countries around the world who we really are, a country given to helping others, a country given to showing you the wonders of what our republic can do for people, in need around the world.
Specifically, it's a chance to show the people of Taiwan, faced with an outbreak of COVID and far too few vaccines, that we recognize the urgency they face and who will do what's right to help the 23 million people on this precious island, long a friend of the United States.
Now, I want to say at the outset that our policy of giving vaccines to other countries -- donating them -- is totally for humanitarian purposes. However, given the strategic nature of Taiwan, given that its people could be in the fight of their lives to stay independent of the Peoples Republic of China, we must be more aggressive in donating shots to Taiwan now.
Yes, we recently tripled the number of vaccines to Taiwan in June with a 2.5 million dose shipment.
But with only 6% of its 23 million people vaccinated, it's just not enough. We must do more. While millions in our country refuse to be vaccinated and with something like 80 million known spare vaccines owned by the federal government it is time to step up and be counted on to our ally. Geopolitical? Let's just say smart. I do not think all countries are created equal when it comes to getting vaccines form us. Here's why.
It is our understanding that the Chinese are currently blocking the purchase of vaccines by the Taiwanese. But we aren't talking about the Taiwanese buying them. We are talking about giving them away. As a state department official told Reuters, "We are donating these vaccines with the singular objective of saving lives."
Reuters reports a senior White House official saying, "we believe that these attempts by China to block purchases for political purposes are reprehensible."
I couldn't agree more and we can do something about it immediately.
Right now, I believe the single most strategic challenge facing our country is President Xi's desire to assimilate Taiwan to be what he thinks is its rightful place, a Hong Kong-like client state. In an incredibly important recent speech under-reported on by the U.S. press, President Xi said it is his first priority. Remember China has always regarded Taiwan as part of its country and has refused to recognize its independence.
We can't let Taiwan go the way of Hong Kong. If our government were to call Moderna (MRNA) and buy 40 million vaccines for the Taiwanese, or alternatively, give them some of the huge bought-and-paid for vaccines that will not be taken because of ideological or ignorant objections of our own people, it would go a long way to blunt Chinese aggrandizement.
Taiwan, a true democracy, is also a country with a vibrant business community that is dominated by Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) , perhaps the most important company in the world when it comes to our semiconductor output. It's making most of the chips for the internet of things and for industrial purposes, including automobiles. It has committed to a gigantic foundry in Arizona, perhaps the largest private sector initiative in this nation. Our semiconductor industry is toast without them.
I think that this country's special status must be noted by the White House. You can still be humanitarian with no strings attached and give Taiwan all it needs. The CEO of Taiwan Semi is negotiating on Taiwan's behalf to get needed vaccines. Here's how I would negotiate: "You can have all you want. We're fueling up the FedEx (FDX) planes right now."
How foolish is it to have to throw out vaccines that don't last because people are too stupid to take them here when they are desperate for them there? Can we really be so neutral in who gets vaccines that we cut off our noses to spite our faces.
Go to Moderna, Mr. President. Ask them how many more vaccines they can make that the U.S. can buy and give to Taiwan. And then take away the vaccines they don't want in the states where no one is taking them. That should be enough to do the job and keep this most important ally in our sphere of influence just when its independence is most threatened.