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Taiwan Office in Thailand clarifies President Tsai's vaccine remarks

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Taiwan Office in Thailand clarifies President Tsai's vaccine remarks

Bangkok, June 15 (CNA) The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Thailand on Monday issued a statement clarifying that President Tsai Ing-wen did not accuse the Thai government of "blocking" exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

In the statement, the office stressed that President Tsai has never said that Thailand blocked the exports of AstraZeneca vaccines.

TECO Thailand is the de facto Taiwan Embassy in the Southeast Asian country due to the absence of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Thailand.

The controversy stems from a radio interview with Tsai in Taiwan last Friday, in which she said the insufficient supply of vaccine doses in Taiwan was partly due to delayed shipments from Thailand.

"The AstraZeneca vaccine ordered by Taiwan is mainly produced in Thailand, but the situation in Thailand is more serious now, so they prioritize the vaccines for use in Thailand," she said in Chinese.

That part of the interview was picked up by foreign news outlets and later went viral in Thailand.

Some Thai media took Tsai's statement as blaming the Thai government, prompting Thai Deputy Government Spokesperson Traisuree Taisaranakul to respond on Twitter that "Thailand is not blocking exports of AstraZeneca. It is a matter for the producer to manage."

TECO stressed that some Thai media "misinterpreted" Tsai's remarks.

"During the interview, President Tsai merely focused on stressing that the most 'prioritized' task for every government now is to gain access to vaccines as much as possible for their nationals," according to the TECO statement, which was written in English.

"Also, she understood that all pharmaceuticals are pacing up to stabilize the supplies of vaccines in order to satisfy the exceeding demands globally," it added.

TECO said it believes that both Taiwan and Thailand will continue to work hand-in-hand to combat the pandemic and hopes the vaccine supply chain will stabilize so that vaccines can be delivered on schedule.

The TECO clarification has been published over the past two days in many Thai media, including Matichon, Manager Online, Daily News, Post Today, Khaosod Online, Bangkokbiz, Voice TV, Thairath, Nation TV, Bangkok Post and The Nation.

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