The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has responded with “knee-jerk” reactions to COVID-19 policy proposals by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-led local governments, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said yesterday at a weekly meeting of the party’s Central Standing Committee. The central and local governments need to work together to prevent the spread of the disease, he said. However, over the past year, Taiwan’s 14 KMT-led city and county governments have seen knee-jerk reactions from the DPP whenever disease prevention measures at the local level differed from the advice of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), Chiang said. It has been common that the DPP has attacked local governments for their policies only to later adopt them, Chiang said. He listed as examples the New Taipei City Government’s proposals to test all arrivals, implement a registration system for mask sales and increase virus-related restrictions. The Kinmen County Government urged authorities to screen all arrivals to the nation’s outlying islands for COVID-19, while the Taichung City Government suggested that pregnant women be prioritized to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Chiang said. The Changhua County Government closed all night markets within its jurisdiction, he said, referring to a decision on May 14 to shut down more than 50 night markets. The CECC on Tuesday announced that all arrivals to Taiwan would be required to undergo a polymerase chain reaction test for COVID-19 at the end of their quarantine — a policy the KMT proposed a year ago, Chiang said. In a statement, the CECC said that the new rule was in response to the worldwide spread of the Delta COVID-19 variant, which was first detected in India and is believed to be more easily transmissible than other variants. If the CECC does not treat local governments like partners and understand their differing opinions, this would not benefit the nation’s prevention measures,
About three-quarters of Taiwanese believe that a local outbreak of COVID-19 was due to eased quarantine requirements for aircrew members and a shortage of COVID-19 vaccinations, a survey released by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) showed yesterday. Conducted from Tuesday to Thursday last week, the survey asked members of the public whether they agreed that the outbreak was caused by shortening quarantines for airline personnel to three days, as well as a too-low vaccination rate. The results showed that 75.7 percent of respondents agreed, while 18.8 percent disagreed and 5.5 percent gave no response. Forty-four percent of respondents were confident that domestically developed COVID-19 vaccines would offer sufficient protection, while 48 percent said they were not confident and 8 percent gave no response, it showed. The survey showed that 80.3 percent of respondents agreed that Taiwanese-made vaccines should complete phase 3 clinical trials before being administered to the general public, while 14.7 percent disagreed and 5 percent gave no response. It showed that 87.9 percent of respondents agreed that the government should import enough internationally certified vaccines, and allow people to choose between domestically developed and imported jabs, while 8.2 percent disagreed and 3.9 percent gave no response. The survey also showed that 64.7 percent of people worried the vaccine shortage would prevent themselves or their families from being inoculated “in a short period of time,” while 33.8 percent were not worried and 1.5 percent gave no response. KMT Culture and Communications Committee director-general Alicia Wang (王育敏) told an online news conference that even considering vaccine donations from the US and Japan, Taiwan’s vaccination rate would only reach 15.5 percent. Private groups, including Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and the Tzu Chi Foundation have made attempts to procure vaccinations for Taiwan, Wang said, adding that the government should support their efforts. A lack of transparency
COVID-19 rapid testing kits for use in the home can be bought at select convenience stores in northern Taiwan, with plans to supply stores nationwide by the weekend. Five companies have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to sell the kits, which test for either COVID-19 antigens or the virus’ nucleic acid. Aside from pharmacies, home testing kits can be bought at convenience store chains 7-Eleven, Hi-Life and OK Mart, while FamilyMart plans to start selling the products on Saturday. Tests went on sale yesterday at all 7-Eleven locations north of Taoyuan that are authorized to sell medical products, the convenience store’s operator, Uni-President Enterprises, said. Individual antigen test strips produced by domestic firm TaiDoc Technology are available for NT$350 each, it said. Uni-President said it hopes to make the tests available at all authorized 7-Eleven stores nationwide by Thursday next week. Hi-Life also began selling TaiDoc testing kits yesterday, although only at its store on Dihua Street in Taipei’s Datong District (大同) and its Wugong store in New Taipei City’s Wugu District (五股). Unlike 7-Eleven, Hi-Life is selling boxes of five testing strips for NT$1,700. Each store has 100 boxes available. From today, OK Mart is to begin selling test kits produced by Swiss firm Roche at NT$1,900 for a box of five, the firm said. Orders can be made from OK Mart kiosks nationwide for pickup starting from July 9, it added. From Saturday, FamilyMart is to offer TaiDoc and Roche kits at nearly 3,800 stores nationwide that are authorized to sell medical products. The Roche tests are to be sold in boxes of five for NT$1,800, while the TaiDoc tests would be sold in boxes of 20 for NT$5,880, FamilyMart said, adding that it is targeting corporate customers. Preorders could be made at FamiPort kiosks for pickup the next day at the earliest, FamilyMart added. Cosmed is
The death of a two-month-old baby on Tuesday most likely was due to sudden infant death syndrome, rather than from drinking mother’s milk after the child’s mother got vaccinated against COVID-19 on Monday, doctors have said. Responding to the mother’s speculation that the AstraZeneca vaccine had contaminated her breast milk, leading to the death of her child, Central Epidemic Command Center Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices convener Lee Ping-ing (李秉穎) said that no country in the world deems COVID-19 vaccines unsafe for breastfeeding mothers. The mother said that she found her daughter with foam and blood on her lips at 3am, four hours after breastfeeding. The baby was rushed to a hospital and pronounced dead on arrival. Lee, an infectious disease expert, said that COVID-19 vaccines are injected into a muscle to stimulate an immune response to the virus, without the risk that the drug would contaminate the recipient’s breast milk. Echoing Lee, National Taiwan University Children’s Hospital superintendent Huang Li-min (黃立民) said it was highly unlikely that the infant’s death was caused by her mother’s breast milk. When a child under the age of one dies suddenly and without obvious cause, it is most likely due to sudden infant death syndrome, Huang said, adding that an autopsy would be required to determine the cause of death. Ministry of Health and Welfare data showed that 23 of the 165,249 babies born in the nation last year died of the syndrome. Figures for the past few years were similar, with 24 deaths among 175,074 births in 2019 and 22 among 181,601 births in 2018, it showed. The WHO says the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine can be given to breastfeeding mothers, and the agency “does not recommend discontinuation of breastfeeding after vaccination.”
NO QUARANTINES: The Hague’s decision came after the EU suggested member states ease travel restrictions for people from nations it considers safe
The Netherlands is to allow Taiwanese tourists to visit the country without requiring them to quarantine or present a negative COVID-19 test result, the Dutch government said on Tuesday, as the nation is among 50 countries with a low risk of COVID-19 infection the Dutch government posted on its Web site. “A safe country is a country where the risk of contracting COVID-19 is low. If you live in a safe country, you may travel to the Netherlands,” the government wrote. “If you are coming from a country where the risk of contracting COVID-19 is low (a safe country), you do not need to show a negative test result when you travel to the Netherlands. You are also not required to self-quarantine when you arrive in the Netherlands.” The post lists Taiwan in the section of “safe countries outside the EU/Schengen area.” The announcement, effective today, came after the EU last week recommended member states to gradually lift restrictions on non-essential travel from low-risk countries outside the bloc, saying that it would update its risk assessment every two weeks. In a first phase, the EU recommended members to lift the ban on travelers from 14 countries, including Taiwan.
Vice President William Lai (賴清德) yesterday urged Beijing to stop media repression in Hong Kong, where the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily is printing its last edition today after a police crackdown last week. In a post on Facebook, Lai criticized Hong Kong police for targeting the Hong Kong edition of Apple Daily, which has been critical of the authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing for undermining freedoms and human rights in the territory. Hong Kong police on Thursday last week raided Apple Daily’s newsroom and arrested five executives on national security grounds. Police have also frozen the assets of Apple Daily and affiliates. Lai urged Beijing to stop oppressing freedom of the press and speech, and said Taiwan stands with the people of Hong Kong. Among the five people arrested last week, parent company Next Digital chief executive officer Cheung Kim-hung (張劍虹) and Apple Daily editor-in-chief Ryan Law (羅偉光) have been charged with collusion with foreign forces and remain in detention, while the other three have been released on bail. Dozens of articles published by Apple Daily have been used against the detainees, making it potentially the first time news reports are used as evidence of crimes under the National Security Law. Many Hong Kong people have defied the government, Lai wrote, adding that Apple Daily sold 500,000 copies the day after the office raid. It is unclear how many copies the newspaper sold that day, but it printed 500,000 copies, up from 80,000 the previous day.
CORRELATION: The drop in the ruling party’s approval rating coincided with a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections since the start of last month, a public opinion foundation said
The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) public opinion rating has dropped to a five-year low, while support for smaller parties has grown, a survey released yesterday by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation found. The survey asked respondents which political party they most supported, if at all. Public support edged down to 22.6 percent for the DPP and declined to 18.4 percent for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), but reached a new high of 15.6 percent for the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP). Another 6.3 percent of respondents said that they support the New Power Party (NPP) and 3.5 percent said the Taiwan Statebuilding Party (TSP), while 1.2 percent answered “other party,” 30.8 percent said they did not support any party and 1.7 percent had no answer. The DPP’s support rate was 0.6 percentage points lower than last month and the KMT’s was 2.8 percentage points lower, while all other parties saw an increase in public support, foundation chairman Michael You (游盈隆) said. Support for the TPP was 7.1 percentage points higher than last month, while the NPP’s was 3.3 percentage points higher and the TSP’s was 1.6 percentage points higher, he said. The number of “neutral” respondents was 7.1 percentage points lower than last month, he added. “Such a large drop in the popularity of the ruling party is cause for reflection, and to have the popularity of the largest opposition party drop, too, is also uncommon,” he said. The survey also asked respondents to rate the performance of Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the performance of the mayors of the six special municipalities. Chen received an approval rating of 62.9 percent, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) had 45.5 percent and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) had 36.7 percent.
A US Navy destroyer on Tuesday sailed through the Taiwan Strait, making it the sixth transit by a US warship through the waterway in five months. USS Curtis Wilbur, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, “conducted a routine Taiwan Strait June 22 (local time) through international waters in accordance with international law,” the US 7th Fleet said in a statement. “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” it said. US warships have made similar passages via the waterway separating Taiwan and China on five occasions before Tuesday since US President Joe Biden assumed office on Jan. 20, despite strong opposition from Beijing. The latest mission comes about a week after Taiwan reported that 28 Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. That incident followed a joint statement by G7 leaders scolding China over human rights breaches, and underscoring the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. The Ministry of National Defense yesterday said that it monitored the US warship’s movements and that the situation in the surrounding area remained normal as the ship sailed in a northerly direction. Additional reporting by Reuters
Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) yesterday accused the Executive Yuan of “ambush” with its announcement on Tuesday night that it had issued a permit for Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) to build two natural gas-powered units at the Taichung Thermal Power Plant. Lu said the central government had bypassed the local government’s authority to oversee construction at the facility. “People in central Taiwan are angry and I am lodging a serious protest [against this decision] on behalf of the city government and Taichung resident,” she said. Taichung and the state-owned utility have been at loggerheads over the pollution caused by its coal-fired generators and whether Taipower can add gas-fired generators to the plant. One of the world’s largest coal-fired plants, the Taichung Power Plant consists of 10 coal-fired generators. Taipower is planning to add two natural gas-powered units to the plant by 2025 as part of a plan to decrease coal consumption and improve air quality. The utility said that after installing the two gas-powered units, it would decommission, but not scrap four of its coal-fired generators to have them in reserve to generate power when electricity is in short supply. That proposal requires the city’s approval, but Taichung’s lack of action after 15 months led the central government to try to bypass local authorities. The Executive Yuan on Tuesday said it had approved a special building construction permit for Taipower to build the new gas-fired units, and justified its decision with a technical legal argument that said the project did not need the city’s approval. The Construction and Planning Agency argued in a statement that Taichung’s requirement that the Taichung Power Plant proposal be reviewed under the Urban Planning Act (都市計畫法) exceeded the authority of the Taichung City Government. It said the city was required by its “Urban Planning Act Self-Government Regulations” to establish
The government and legislators across party lines expressed their appreciation after the Lithuanian government pledged to donate 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan. Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis on Tuesday announced on Twitter that the Lithuanian government had approved the donation. Citing the Lithuanian Ministry of Health, a Reuters report said that the pledge was made in response to a request on Tuesday last week for help by Taipei’s mission in neighboring Latvia. The vaccines are to be delivered in September. In a Facebook post, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) thanked Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte and her government for the donation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs described Lithuania’s pledge as a “demonstration of friendship through concrete action,” adding that the Baltic nation is the first EU member state to help Taiwan with its vaccine needs. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) also issued a statement on Tuesday thanking Vilnius for the donation, saying it “embodies the friendly reciprocity between Taiwan and Lithuania.” However, one KMT lawmaker criticized it as another example of Taiwan being a “vaccine beggar.” The phrase was first used by KMT Taipei City Councilor Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強), who said the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has become a “vaccine beggar,” as it has to rely on the US and Japan for donations after failing to procure enough COVID-19 vaccines. KMT Legislator Lee De-wei (李德維) yesterday repeated the phrase, writing on Facebook: “So here I want to thank Lithuania for the donation... But it also highlights Taiwan’s ‘vaccine beggar’ predicament, because we have to beg for them.” Rebuking the insinuation, DPP spokeswoman Yen Juo-fang (顏若芳) said: “It is very common to assist other countries in the international community by sending materials. Taiwan had made generous donations of masks and medical supplies when the pandemic was severe in other countries.” “Lo and
China Airlines Ltd (CAL) yesterday apologized for moving three business class passengers from section 1 to section 2 on a flight to the US last week after another passenger reserved the entire first section for himself. A video circulating on the Internet shows the three passengers, who were scheduled to board the flight to the US on Thursday last week, complaining to ground crew at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport after being informed about the change on short notice and for disregarding the terms of the service contract. The video also shows only one man sitting in the first section, who is reportedly a major shareholder of the airline and a Taiwanese shipping firm. The incident occurred amid rising demand for flights to the US, with many reportedly flying to the US to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Industry observers estimated the cost of booking all 24 seats in the first section of business class at close to NT$5 million (US$178,533) for a round trip. China Airlines said in a statement that it has devised numerous ways to sell tickets after the global aviation industry fell into a slump because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These range from charter flights to allowing passengers to book an entire business cabin or one section in the business cabin. “Ticket sales are dictated by business considerations, and costs are calculated based on the number of seats reserved,” the airline said. “We are not at a liberty to disclose passengers’ personal information, and the public should refrain from speculating about their identity.” “We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience and unpleasantness we had caused our guests and will contact them to offer our sincere apology,” it added. Other airlines offer similar deals to boost ticket sales. EVA Airways’ economy-class passengers to the US or Canada can purchase extra seats on the same row
A volunteer holds a sign at an intersection in Taipei yesterday, announcing a shortage of donated blood, as COVID-19-control restrictions make it hard for donors to visit blood donation centers.
ONLINE SERVICES: MAC Minister Chiu Tai-san said the offices in Hong Kong and Macau would be maintained unless their operations become seriously hindered
Taiwan’s representative office in Hong Kong would continue to operate even though most Taiwanese posted at the office have been forced home due to visa issues, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said on Monday. The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Hong Kong has only one Taiwanese official left, but would continue to serve the public, Chiu told a virtual news conference. The office still has local staff, but Chiu did not say how many people are employed there. The MAC-administered office has 19 Taiwanese staffers under normal circumstances. Chiu’s statement came after seven Taiwanese officials on Sunday were forced to return home due to the refusal of Hong Kong authorities to extend their visas, bringing the total number of Taiwanese officials forced home for the same reason to 11 since last year. The Hong Kong government in July 2018 began asking Taiwanese staff to sign an affidavit recognizing Beijing’s “one China” principle as a precondition for a visa, Chiu said, adding that Taiwan does not accept that political condition. Chiu said that the location and telephone numbers of TECO Hong Kong remain unchanged, and it would continue to provide consular services, such as authenticating documents, and issuance of passports and visas. Applications by Hong Kong residents for visitor entry permits would be processed online, while applications for residency in Taiwan would still be handled at the TECO Hong Kong office, he said. Residents of mainland China have to apply for entry to Taiwan online, while interviews related to travel for reuniting with family or getting married will be done at a port of entry upon arrival in Taiwan instead of at TECO Hong Kong, he said. Other services, such as emergency assistance to nationals and trade promotion, would also continue, he said. For educational exchanges, a Web site will be established to allow Hong Kong
Academics yesterday criticized China after staff at Taiwan’s representative office in Hong Hong were required to sign a document supporting Beijing’s “one China” principle. All except one of the eight remaining staff members at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Hong Kong were forced to return to Taipei on Sunday after they failed to obtain visa extensions. The Mainland Affairs Council in a statement on Sunday said that China and the Hong Kong government had set “unreasonable political conditions” for visa extension applications by TECO Hong Kong staff, including requiring them to sign a pledge to observe the “one China” policy. The staff could not sign a document that was “tantamount to acknowledging Bejing’s suzerainty,” Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology fellow Wu Jieh-min (吳介民) told a virtual news conference yesterday. “That would compromise Taiwan’s sovereignty, and alter the status quo across the Taiwan Strait,” Wu told the event, which was organized by the Economic Democracy Union. Such a concession would signal that Taiwan has surrendered to China and switched its allegiance from the alliance of democracies to a totalitarian regime, he said. Taiwan must protect its sovereignty without giving up on protecting the human rights of Hong Kongers, he said. Human rights are the cornerstone of Taiwan’s democracy and part of its responsibility as a member of the global camp of democratic states, Wu said. The council should continue to help Hong Kong’s exiled democracy advocates, including with employment assistance, he said. The Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (香港澳門關係條例) was promulgated under the assumption that China would honor the Hong Kong Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration, Wu said. As China has all but torn up those documents, the legal justification for treating Hong Kong and China differently is null and void, he said, adding that the Legislative Yuan should consider asserting Taiwan’s support
DIVERSIFICATION THE KEY: Brent Christensen said that Taiwan ‘is truly the central node for global trade in ICT’ and its semiconductor industry is the envy of the world
Supply chain resilience must be boosted for the semiconductor and other industries, representatives said at a virtual forum on tech supply chain partnerships yesterday, which was attended by delegations from the EU, the US and Japan. More than 700 people signed up for the event, including government, academic and industrial representatives, said the European Economic and Trade Office in Taiwan (EETO), which coorganized the event. The global supply chain was established to maximize production and supply efficiency, but that ideal has been challenged amid the COVID-19 pandemic, EETO Head of Office Filip Grzegorzewski said in opening remarks. The EU hopes to increase the proportion it contributes to global semiconductor production, especially in advanced manufacturing technology of 5 nanometer chips or smaller, an area in which Taiwan plays a dominant role, Grzegorzewski said. While the EU maintains strategic partnerships in its international trade ties, it aims to improve its autonomy of production in strategic industries and work with reliable partners to achieve the goal, he said. American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen said that the pandemic has made it even more clear how important Taiwan is to the world economy. “From the silicon wafers to the semiconductors to the installed components in the latest consumer electronics, Taiwan is truly the central node for global trade in ICT [information and communications technology] products. And Taiwan’s semiconductor industry is the envy of the world,” Christensen said. “Whether as a provider of trusted medical equipment or as a supplier of semiconductors for automotive assembly lines, Taiwan is an indispensable partner,” he said. US Department of State Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Murray joined the forum, showing the importance that Washington places on Taiwan’s role as a critical economic and security partner, Christensen said. Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association Chief Deputy Representative Mitsuaki Hoshino said that diversification of the production
Taiwan has risen to 26th in a global start-up ecosystem rankings report, up four notches from last year, the Ministry of Science and Technology said yesterday. The rankings were complied by StartupBlink, an Israel-based global start-up ecosystem map and research center, in conjunction with the ministry’s Taiwan Tech Arena, listing about 1,000 cities and 100 countries. In The Global Startup Ecosystem Index Report 2021, Taiwan ranked 26th globally, although it remained seventh in the Asia-Pacific region. Taiwan was 14th on the “Hardware & IoT” subindex and 15th on the “Health Technology” subindex, the report said. Among the 1,000 cities in the report, Taipei was listed 41st, up one notch from last year, while five other Taiwanese cities — Hsinchu, Taoyuan, Tainan, Taichung and Kaohsiung — made the rankings for the first time. The nation’s performance in the start-up ecosystem has gained international recognition through the efforts of government agencies and the private sector, which has helped consolidate its status in deep tech and other emerging industries, the ministry said. Meanwhile, Taiwan rose three places from last year to 17th in The COVID-19 Innovation Report compiled by the UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange and StartupBlink, placing it among the 32 best-performing countries, the ministry said. The greater Taipei area advanced on the list of 80 cities in the innovation rankings from 10th last year to ninth, it said.
Chunghwa Post yesterday said it is seeking to maximize the use of iPostbox terminals by working with Taptot, an online sharing platform. The postal company has installed 2,400 iPostbox terminals nationwide since the service was launched in 2017, but limited usage prompted the Legislative Yuan’s Transportation Committee in December last year to freeze NT$174 million (US$6.22 million) of Chunghwa Post’s budget for the following fiscal year that had been earmarked to expand the iPostbox network. The partnership with Taptot is expected to boost usage of iPostbox services, Chunghwa Post said. To access the services through Taptot, people have to register on the postal company’s EZ post Web site, it said. After downloading the Taptot app, they can open the app and choose iPostbox as a way to send mail and packages, or share items with friends, Chunghwa Post said, adding that payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay, Line Pay and other mobile payment methods. Packages can be deposited at an iPostbox terminal to be delivered, it said. People can send items from one iPostbox terminal to another, or from iPostbox terminals to homes, the company said. People shopping on Chunghwa Post’s PostMall until Sept. 30 can earn one point for every NT$100 spent on designated items and have them delivered via the iPostbox network, it said. If they accumulate 30 points, they can be used as a rebate for a subsequent purchase, it said. Delivery fees would be waived for purchases of NT$450 or more, the company said, adding that a free draw would be held each month for PostMall shoppers in the period.
CREATING TRUST: More information on vaccine distribution would combat rumors, while priority groups could be decided by an independent panel, the lawmakers said
Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) legislators Ann Kao (高虹安) and Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿) yesterday called for greater transparency regarding reported COVID-19 cases and vaccine distribution. Greater transparency about vaccine distribution would help dispel rumors that people with government connections are getting vaccinated ahead of schedule, the legislators told an online news conference. Vaccination priority groups could be decided by an independent committee, and county and city health authorities could publish updated local case numbers and vaccine eligibility lists, they said. “Disputes broke out over distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccines donated by Japan, and now there are concerns about distribution of the Moderna vaccines donated by the US,” said Kao, the TPP’s deputy caucus whip. “If there was more transparency from the central government, it would help local governments to prepare and earn the public’s trust.” Some people have complained that the vaccine eligibility list updated by the Central Epidemic Command Center on Sunday is still not clearly defined, Kao said. “For example, some have asked whether people such as Executive Yuan political adviser Ting Yi-ming (丁怡銘) or the community heads in Taichung are included in the second vaccine priority group,” she said. “If these people get vaccinated and the list is not clearly defined, then it causes a rift in society.” Authorities should take a cue from the US and the UK where vaccine distribution is decided by a committee that is independent from the government, Jang said. The committee would publish its decisions and the minutes of its meetings online to dispel public concerns, he said. “The CECC should ensure that frontline medical workers receive their second shots, and clearly list those who are to be prioritized,” he said. It should also ensure that there are enough doses of the Moderna vaccine for the armed forces, particularly those who work in crowded conditions such as in
‘ONE CHINA’ ENDORSEMENT? The KMT is constantly smearing the government’s efforts, but has not queried the risks posed by Chinese vaccines, Lo Chih-cheng said
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) must clarify whether it is pushing Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus said yesterday. KMT lawmakers’ proposal that the DPP administration secure 30 million to 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines approved by the international community by the end of August was turned down last week in the legislature, where the DPP has a majority. The KMT should tell people if it aimed to force the government into purchasing Chinese vaccines and endorse Beijing’s “one China” principle, when other vaccines are in short supply, DPP caucus whip Liu Shyh-fang (劉世芳) told an online news conference. The KMT keeps smearing the government’s efforts regarding foreign and locally developed vaccines, but has never questioned the risks posed by Chinese vaccines, DPP caucus secretary-general Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said. The KMT demanded that domestically developed vaccines undergo phase 3 trials, but did not apply the same standards to the vaccines developed by Chinese firms Sinopharm and Sinovac, he said. Before the WHO last month granted emergency use authorization for the Chinese vaccines, they had been administered in China, he added. Lo called on the opposition party not to work with Beijing in its unification campaign, but to help Taiwan acquire more vaccines. The KMT keeps finding fault with the vaccines acquired by the government, while sparing no effort in promoting the use of Chinese vaccines, DPP Legislator Phoenix Cheng (鄭運鵬) said, calling on voters to see past the KMT’s “trickery.” Later yesterday, the KMT said it has never asked the government to purchase Chinese vaccines, and called on the DPP not to deflect attention from its vaccine acquisition problems. The DPP administration cannot acquire any COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson, while it did not purchase enough doses of Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines, the KMT said, adding that only 3.7 percent of its
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) yesterday said that the US’ and Japan’s donations of COVID-19 vaccines were not due to the efforts of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration. Japan has donated 1.24 million AstraZeneca doses and the US has donated 2.5 million Moderna doses to Taiwan. While Taiwanese are grateful, officials in the Tsai administration have “the least reason to boast” about the donations, Chiang said. “It is because of the Tsai administration’s policy mistakes that other friendly nations saw the breach in Taiwan’s [COVID-19] situation and sent the vaccines quickly,” he said. The loss of more than 500 lives led to the donations, he said, referring to the number of Taiwanese who have died from the disease. The Tsai administration should not consider the donations its “political achievement,” he added. So far, no official from the administration has taken responsibility for the deaths and stepped down, he said. He also accused the administration of using the donations for “propaganda” at home and abroad. “These vaccines came not because of the efforts of the Tsai administration, but because friendly nations heard the calls of Taiwanese,” he said. On the issue of domestically developed COVID-19 vaccines, Chiang said the government should not treat people like “guinea pigs.” People would only support the vaccines if they have been internationally approved, he said. Separately yesterday, the KMT in a statement thanked the Lithuanian government for its announcement of a donation of 20,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Taiwan, saying it “embodies the friendly reciprocity between Taiwan and Lithuania.” “We’ll always remember your nation’s generosity during these trying times,” Chiang wrote on Twitter. However, the amount of vaccines Taiwan has acquired is still far from the amount needed to achieve herd immunity, the KMT said. “Besides merely relying on international donations, the KMT also hopes that the Tsai administration will work harder