Liberty Times Editorial: Gather Together, End Strong
As health officials struggle to bring a spike in COVID-19 infections under control, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has extended the level 3 pandemic alert nationwide until June 14. [Editor’s note: The Cabinet on Tuesday extended the level 3 alert until June 28.] As a result, during last month’s iteration of Bloomberg’s COVID resilience rankings, Taiwan dropped from fifth place to 15th.
On May 27, the center announced that it would begin distributing approximately 410,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The batch arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday last week.
On May 17, US President Joe Biden announced that Washington would send an additional 20 million doses of US-approved vaccines overseas before the end of this month.
Not to be outdone, at the World Health Summit on May 21, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) announced that Beijing had provided 300 million doses of vaccines to the world and would provide $ 3 billion in international aid over the next three years to support the global response to COVID-19 and help developing countries recover economically and socially from the crisis.
Not wanting to be left out, the EU has pledged to deliver at least 100 million doses of vaccines to developing countries by the end of the year.
It didn’t take long for the vaccine competition between the United States and China to reach Taiwan’s shores. Although the surge in national COVID-19 infections since the start of last month has been smaller than that most countries have faced, Taiwan’s status as a model for epidemic prevention has taken a hard hit. The United States and China have taken steps to address Taiwan’s pressing need for more vaccines.
Beijing has said it is willing to help Taiwan by providing vaccine-related support, which means it could supply Taiwan with its locally grown vaccines. However, this came with one condition: Taipei must “recognize that Taiwan is part of a“ one China ”.
In Washington, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra promised Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳 時 中) that he would increase Taiwan’s urgent need for vaccines with Biden and that United States would take Taiwan’s needs into consideration by distributing vaccines to the world.
U.S. Senators, Democrats and Republicans, wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting that Taiwan be placed on a priority list of Indo-Pacific countries to receive vaccines donated by the United States.
Meanwhile, some local politicians and commentators have offered their own “advice” and “opinions,” such as, “The United States is under no obligation to provide a single vaccine to Taiwan” and “If there is enough global stock, then US vaccines could be considered.
The official policy of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) now says, “Local governments should be allowed to negotiate their own agreements to acquire vaccines. Move over the “united front” – questionable Chinese vaccines are a new way for pro-Chinese politicians to trample Taiwanese down, as if they are just blades of grass.
Internationally, COVID-19 vaccines are all about politics, especially the politics of the great powers, as vaccines are the starting point for strategic competition in the post-pandemic world.
In Taiwan, vaccines have become political football. The KMT and the mayors of Taipei and New Taipei City have all worked hard. It seems that, in the eyes of opposition politicians, the invisible enemy is not the virus, but rather the government.
Some people turn Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and Taipei New Town Mayor Hou You-yi () into divine figures, while others criticize the outer circle of the Pan-Green camp, claiming that ‘he uses Ko to undermine Hou.
President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration must tackle the virus while battling with the World Health Assembly (WHA), battling for vaccine supplies and facing a myriad of challenges. ‘other national challenges, including a severe drought, blackouts, a deluge of false news and disinformation, and an increased military threat from China.
If the Democratic Progressive Party gets caught up in the whirlwind of populism following the August referendums and next year’s local elections, the party runs the risk of repeating the same mistakes that cost it the 2018 local elections. .
While the opposition is only looking at the next election, Beijing is looking at 2024.
Several months ago, Beijing announced that it would provide 10 million doses of vaccine to the global COVAX vaccine sharing program, an initiative intended to benefit Taiwan. As the number of domestic infections rises, Beijing has made its terms more explicit, saying “the island’s internal political obstacles must be removed as a matter of priority.”
This would amount to swallowing Beijing’s so-called “1992 consensus” and its “one China” principle. In other words, Beijing is offering Taiwan a “one-China” vaccine. Beijing is also using “vaccine diplomacy” to try to eliminate Taiwan’s allies, such as Honduras, which has not ruled out severing ties with Taiwan in exchange for the “one-China” vaccine.
Honduran General Coordination Minister Carlos Alberto Madero said: “We believe that geopolitics and vaccines are interdependent,” while KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said: “Vaccines have been erected as a national strategic problem. “
As Chiang acknowledges, would it be wise for Taiwan to rely on China to vaccinate its people? Do Taiwanese politicians and commentators who use vaccines to stoke anti-American sentiment honestly believe they are helping the nation’s strategic interests?
The COVID-19 situation in Taiwan appears dire due to its near-pristine record in fighting the virus until early last month and the gravity of the situation in other countries. Taiwan is largely a victim of its own success. After more than a year of strictly adhering to government disease prevention measures, the public began to let their guard down and many began to ignore official guidelines.
Taiwan’s airlines and sex industries have become loopholes in its armor. The situation was exacerbated by the reluctance of the public, especially health workers, to get vaccinated when the program began – a psychological barrier was erected in people’s minds and cemented by political misinformation.
As a result, the public is nervous; his nerves are shattered.
Those who continue to fuel the rumor mill – who tout vaccines as an urgent miracle cure and fuss over the Chinese vaccine without thinking for a moment of the consequences – should stop playing politics. If China really wanted to help Taiwan, it would stop blocking Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly, stop blocking the supply of German BioNTech vaccine, and show kindness and humanity for once.
Anyone with his head behind his back knows that Taiwan’s acceptance of the “one China vaccine” would be a disaster for the nation. Just before China launches its vaccine offensive, at the G7 meeting last month, foreign ministers issued a statement supporting “Taiwan’s meaningful participation” in the WHO and WHA forums.
The French Senate also adopted a unanimous resolution calling for the inclusion of Taiwan in several international organizations, including the WHO, and the United States called on the Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to invite Taiwan to participate. at the WHA as an observer.
Although he has already spoken of “common community ideas on human health and well-being,” Xi has once again crudely blocked Taiwan’s participation in the WHA and continues to hamper an international investigation into the origins of COVID -19.
Blocking Taiwan’s involvement in the global community and using vaccines as blackmail during a global pandemic amounts to state terrorism; these are not the actions of a caring and responsible nation.
Once Taiwan overcomes this temporary setback, consensus will quickly form around vaccines. Immunization rates will be crucial to restart the global economy in the post-pandemic world. In an effort to address this issue, the EU has said it is developing a “vaccination passport” which will be implemented on July 1.
As the rate of transmission of COVID-19 remains high, Taiwanese must act responsibly to avoid drilling further holes in the national disease prevention system and preventing the wasting of all the hard work done over the course of the year. past year to make it the envy of the world.
The government has a duty to distribute vaccines released by democratic countries and to develop a safe, locally made vaccine – and the opposition must not spoil that.
The nation narrowly avoided the “1992 consensus” and the cross-strait trade in services agreement. As China manipulates the WHO behind the scenes, attempts to choke off Taiwan’s vaccine supply, and engages in a cognitive war on the nation, Taiwanese must rally, finish what has been started, and bring Taiwan across the finish line.
Translated by Edward Jones
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