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TAIPEI (Reuters) – An agreement for Taiwan to buy 5 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Germany’s BioNTech SE (NASDAQ 🙂 is on hold, the island’s health minister said on Wednesday, citing possible pressure. china for the delay. Taiwanese Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said officials were about to announce the deal in December when BioNTech took it offline. While he did not directly say that China was to blame, Chen hinted that the decision had a political dimension and that he was concerned about “intervention by external forces,” hence his caution in publicly discussing the planned deal. “Some people don’t want Taiwan to be too happy,” he added, without elaborating, in a radio interview. China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has repeatedly clashed with the island over the coronavirus pandemic. Taiwan has been angered by China’s claim that only it can speak for the island on the international stage on the issue, while Taiwan has accused China of a lack of transparency. BioNTech signed an agreement with Chinese firm Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd to exclusively develop and commercialize COVID-19 vaccine products developed using BioNTech’s mRNA technology in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. In return, he agreed to pay up to $ 85 million in license fees and invest $ 50 million for a stake in the German company. BioNTech’s development and distribution partner for the rest of the world is US firm Pfizer Inc. (NYSE 🙂 Chen said that BioNTech had not asked them to speak to Fosun, and that the agreement with BioNTech had not been “broken”, it was just “pending”. BioNTech and Fosun did not immediately respond to a request for comment. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office declined to comment immediately. China is currently celebrating the week-long Lunar New Year holiday. Taiwan announced in late December that it had agreed to buy nearly 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 10 million from British drugmaker AstraZeneca (NASDAQ :), with the remainder coming from the global COVAX vaccine program and an anonymous company.