TSMC and Foxconn sign on dotted line to buy 10 million Pfizer vaccines for Taiwan

Foxconn's Terry Gou says deal had no guidance nor interference from Beijing

Foxconn and TSMC have inked a procurement deal with Pfizer distributor Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group for 10 million vaccines on behalf of Taiwan, a plan approved by the Taiwanese government late last month.

Taiwan's Overseas Community Affairs Council said statements were released by the two Apple suppliers on Sunday confirming the agreement following details being made public on a social media story that appeared to come from Chinese state-owned Xinhua News Agency.

The Taiwan government said attempts to secure the vaccine were hindered by interference from Beijing, an assertion China denies.

Cases escalated in Taiwan in May, peaking at 535 on 17 May. Prior to that, Taiwan was lauded as a benchmark for controlling the virus. In early June, outbreaks in silicon production centres forced major players in the industry to shut down.

Foxconn founder Terry Gou expressed interest on using his business contacts to procure the vaccine for the island. He took to Facebook to express frustration over Taiwan's reluctance to allow him to do so. After a 1.5-hour meeting between President Tsai Ing-wen, Foxconn founder Terry Gou, and TSMC chairman Mark Liu, the two tech companies were given permission to move forward on their plan.

The highly politicised vaccines cost around $350m and are not expected to arrive until late September. TSMC and Foxconn are to pick up the tab for five million vaccines each.

In a Facebook post, Gou assured his followers that Beijing did not have a role in the procurement of the vaccines. His post, as translated through an online tool, reads:

During the negotiation period after the donation was proposed by my side, there was no guidance or interference from the Beijing authorities in the mainland of the vaccine procurement process. I would like to thank you for allowing the procurement behavior to be attributed to the nature of the negotiation of commercial conditions.

Meanwhile, Taiwan has received 4.86 million doses donated from the US and Japan. The government has signed various contracts for Moderna, AstraZeneca, two Taiwanese manufacturers, and unspecified brands through the COVAX programme, a worldwide initiative for equitable COVID-19 vaccine access. ®

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