US assistance securing more COVID-19 vaccines could serve to protect the critical semiconductor industry at a time of tight chip supplies globally and a rising number of infections in Taiwan, a senior Taiwanese official in New York said in an interview on Thursday.
“While for now the uptick [in COVID-19 cases] hasn’t had an impact, if it lasts too long there could be logistical problems,” Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) Director-General James Lee (李光章) said. “That’s why it’s urgent. We hope the international community can help release vaccines as soon as possible to help control the outbreak.”
Beyond the humanitarian plea for help fighting the pandemic, Lee’s argument might resonate because of deep concern in US government and business about the shortage of chips used in everything from mobile phones to automobiles.
Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA-EFE
Taiwan is facing hundreds of untraceable infections after a year of being one of the biggest success stories of COVID-19 containment.
The new surge has been confined so far mainly to Taipei and New Taipei City, and has not affected the operations of major technology firms, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電), as most of their operations are located farther south.
However, a drought has left hydroelectric plants operating at limited capacity, contributing to power outages in major cities across the nation, including locations where the world’s biggest computer chip businesses operate.
The government earlier this week pledged to try to keep the world supplied with chips and projected a limited impact from its worst outbreak so far. Keeping up production is critical not just for Taiwan’s growth, but because the nation is the world’s main supplier of advanced computer chips.
The concentration of chip manufacturing in Taiwan and a global shortage fueled in part by the COVID-19 pandemic has quickly become a geopolitical issue, with governments around the world racing to secure additional supplies and vowing to build their own locally based chipmaking industries.
Although Taiwan has ranked among the top places in the world in its handling of the pandemic, it has been slower to acquire and distribute shots. So far, only 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca PLC’s COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to Taiwan.
Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) yesterday said that she was trying to ensure that Moderna Inc shots the government has ordered arrive next month.
The government is also in talks with the White House to obtain a portion of the 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines US President Joe Biden pledged to donate.
Biden on Monday announced that his administration would send doses of the Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, on top of 60 million AstraZeneca doses he had already planned to give to other countries.
“We have talked to the Biden administration and we work closely together,” Lee said. “We expect them to help.”
“The US government has been very supportive of Taiwan and that is under their consideration. We expect that pretty soon the White House will have a decision,” he added.
Additional reporting by Reuters
A Taiwanese YouTuber suspected of creating and selling deepfake porn videos featuring more than 100 politicians and influencers was on Monday released on bail after being arrested the previous day. Chu Yu-chen (朱玉宸), 26, who uses the name Xiaoyu (小玉) on YouTube, was arrested on Sunday in New Taipei City, along with two suspected accomplices, a 24-year-old YouTuber surnamed Yeh (耶), known as Shaiw Shaiw (笑笑), and a 22-year-old man Chuang (莊). The three suspects were on Monday escorted to the New Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office for further questioning on suspicion of distributing obscene videos and publicly insulting others, in contravention of
ANTI-COERCION: EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said the EU wishes to bolster relations with Taiwan within the framework of its ‘one China’ policy The EU is to further its engagement with Taiwan to defend democracy, freedom and an open market, while bolstering cooperation in semiconductor supply chains, EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said on Tuesday. In her remarks at a European Parliament plenary session focused on Taiwan-EU relations, Vestager referred to China’s increasing military presence in the Taiwan Strait, including flying missions off the southwest coast of Taiwan. “This display of force may have a direct impact on European security and prosperity,” she said, adding that the EU encourages all parties to avoid any unilateral actions that might increase tensions across the Strait. “We Europeans
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) yesterday debuted three electric vehicle (EV) prototypes to great fanfare at its Tech Day event at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center. The prototypes of sports utility vehicle Model C, luxury sedan Model E and electric bus Model T were developed by Foxtron Vehicles Technologies Co (鴻華先進), a joint venture between Hon Hai and Yulon Motor Co (裕隆汽車). The Model C and Model E are to be initially sold under the Yulon-affiliated Luxgen Motor Co (納智捷汽車) and China Motor Corp (中華汽車) brands when they hit the market, Hon Hai chairman Young Liu (劉揚偉) said. The company expects
MILITARY RESOLVE: Washington does not want a cold war with Beijing, it just wants ‘China to understand that we’re not going to step back,’ Biden told a CNN town hall The US would come to Taiwan’s defense and has a commitment to defend the nation China claims as its own, US President Joe Biden said on Thursday, although the White House later said there was no change in policy toward Taiwan. “Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” Biden said at a CNN town hall meeting when asked if the US would come to the defense of Taiwan, which has been facing mounting military and political pressure from Beijing to accept Chinese sovereignty. While Washington is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, it has long