Pandemic in Taiwan Surges Amid Vaccines, Power Shortage
According to media commentary, the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen, which has countered mainland China as a matter of principle, is meeting setbacks despite initial successes in the second half of Taiwan's epidemic prevention efforts.
United Daily News)
Origin of Disaster: When Only the China Virus is the Virus
United Daily News Editorial, May 22, 2021
In just a few days, Taiwan’s domestically transmitted cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) have reached 2,000 (Update: As of May 27, the number of confirmed cases is 6,761), and Taiwan’s glorious status as a model in epidemic prevention has fallen rapidly. When Europe and the United States, which were hit hard by the pandemic, begin to take off facial masks and return to ordinary life, Taiwan’s pandemic situation has reversed its course and surged to a climax. The root reason is the epidemic prevention strategy of the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen, which has employed an anti-China guiding principle. The Tsai administration sees threats from mainland China and ignores the fact that other countries may also spread the virus. The recklessness of the Tsai administration finally led to its loss at the last inning of the game.
The pandemic began in Wuhan, Hubei Province, in mainland China, so the “anti-China” Tsai administration easily found the entry point and quickly built an ironclad wall between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Even after Wuhan lifted the lockdown, Taiwanese people who resided in Wuhan were blocked to return to Taiwan: their identities were earmarked, their mainland Chinese spouses and children were denied human rights to go to Taiwan and the right to education. After the charter flights from Wuhan were possible, the polymerse chain reaction (PCR) tests before boarding the planes and the testing after landings were handled in the strictest manner by the Tsai administration; the returnees were sent to collective centers for quarantine and they still had to express their gratitude. In contrast, when the epidemic was rampant in Europe and the United States, Taiwanese people who were inflicted with the virus could board the returning flights publicly. The Tsai administration never concealed its double standard in human rights.
According to a commentator, the anniversary of her second inauguration reminds us that President Tsai has not achieved acceptable results in international negotiations. Pictured above are the heads of state of the United States and South Korea, whose respective governments are forming a partner alliance on exchanging chips for vaccines.
(Photo from: United Daily News)
Tsai Administration Failing in International Negotiations
By Philip Yang
United Daily News, May 21, 2021
The administration of President Tsai Ing-wen has been in office for five years. This May 20th was spent in anxiety, with water shortages, power outages, and the spread of the epidemic. Looking back on the foreign policy of the Tsai administration, the most obvious has been her pro-American and anti-China stance, in order to emphasize Taiwan’s existence and status in the world. The stance has been used to cover any standstills and danger between the two sides of the strait. When it comes to international negotiations, the policy has especially handed in a failed report card.
Here are the three of the most important examples. First, on lifting import restrictions towards American pork and beef, only Taiwan thought that the United States would be willing to restart negotiations on a bilateral economic and trade agreement in exchange. This proved illusory and has been apparent to the Taiwanese people. At the end of last year, when the President Donald Trump sent the Secretary of Health Alex Azar, who is not even an important figure in the United States, to Taiwan. He praised Taiwan as a major public health country and having achieved remarkable results in epidemic prevention. The government responded in opening imports of American pork and beef. The Tsai administration thought that Trump would open U.S.-Taiwan free trade or bilateral economic and trade agreement negotiations, but in exchange, only received the visit of the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs to Taiwan and had a "pre-conference meeting" with our officials in a hotel.
According to media commentary, two major blackouts in just five days highlight the fact that Taiwan is seriously short of electricity, but the Tsai administration remains unwilling to review its failed energy policy.
(Photo from: United Daily News)
Taiwan Should Seriously Review its Energy Policy
Economic Daily News Editorial, May 21, 2021
Two units of Taipower’s Xingda Power Plant tripped on May 13, causing power outages in some areas. Officials from President Tsai Ing-wen, Premier Su Tseng-chang, Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua, to the chairman of the Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) have all emphasized that the incident was not related to electricity shortage. Power grid malfunction and staff negligence caused it. But Xingda Power Plant screwed up again on May 17 with a generator breaking down first while electricity demand continued to rise, and hydropower rendered no help. In order to maintain the balance of power supply and demand, it prompted emergency power cut and blackout again. The officials apologized this time around, no longer denying the lack of power. Taipower explained that the units were under annual maintenance and repair and have not yet resumed work, and the power consumption reached a new high, resulting in insufficient power supply. It finally admitted that it was related to power shortage.
Two major power outages in just five days and community outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) accumulating thousands of cases. They not only caused public panic and grievances but also made the people lose faith and trust in the government energy transition policy and commitment of power stability. Especially the hottest months of June, July, and August have yet to come, and there is no sign of a slowdown of the epidemic, people are very worried that there may be more power cuts and blackouts in the near future due to power outages and power shortages.
Taiwan has suffered a severe drought this year, with water shortages everywhere. Pictured above is Deji Reservoir, the largest in central Taiwan and which currently holds only 1.36% of its water capacity.
United Daily News)
May 17: Following the major power outage across Taiwan on May 13, the Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) announced emergency regional power cuts on the evening of May 17. According to Taipower, this time was indeed a "power supply problem." The main reason is that the first generator at the Xingda Power Plant failed in the afternoon, and it took a long time to shut it down and repair. In addition, due to the current water shortage, hydropower was insufficient to support the large demand of residential electricity at night. The incident affected some 1.2 million households for nearly two hours. President Tsai apologized to the people and stated that like the people, she found the situation hard to accept.
May 17: Taiwan's Apple Daily published its last print edition. With "farewell" and "take care" in big print, the front page said bye to readers. The newspaper featured various classic news articles from 2003 to 2021 to bring an end to the newspaper which has operated for 18 years.
May 18: In a Facebook post, President Tsai reported on the development progress of domestic vaccines. She stated that two Taiwanese firms, UBI Pharma and Medigen Vaccine Biologics, have entered the final stage of the second phase of clinical trials and hopes that the first batch of domestic vaccines will be available before the end of July. Experts say, however, that inoculation should wait until the vaccines are proven safe and effective after the third phase of clinical testing. The government should not act rashly.
May 18: The resurgence of foreign capital and major reduction of financing, in addition to the expectation that American vaccines will come to Taiwan, encouraged Taiwan stocks to rise. Electronics, financial, and traditional manufacturing stocks rebounded strongly, with the stock index closing at 16,154.98 points, 792.09 higher than the previous day. This surpassed the 590.19 surge on November 29, 1989 and is the strongest single-day increase in history.
May 19: The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic situation in Taiwan continues to develop. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced that the epidemic alert level would be raised to level 3 nationwide. A national epidemic prevention meeting will be held daily from May 20 to integrate epidemic prevention resources.
Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung announced that schools at all levels as well as public and private kindergartens shall suspend classes and switch to online instruction, affecting some 4 million students. He also urged students not to return home across district or county lines or travel recreationally, in order to avoid increased risks of infection.
In order to reduce the burden of domestic medical examinations, the CECC announced on May 17 that effective May 19 12 AM until June 18, the entry and transit of foreign passengers who are not Taiwanese citizens and do not hold a residence permit will be suspended.
May 19: The 400,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines purchased by Taiwan through the COVAX platform were delivered from the Netherlands to Taoyuan Airport in the afternoon. After being inspected by customs officers, the vaccines were sent to the cold chain pharmaceuticals warehouse for storage. The vaccines may complete inspection and be opened in seven days at the earliest. First-line medical staff will have priority to receive the vaccine, and the vaccines expire on August 31.
Moderna's reagents for testing also arrived in Taiwan. The first batch of Moderna vaccines may arrive in Taiwan as early as late May.
May 21: The government of Hong Kong announced on May 18 that it would close its economic, trade, and cultural office in Taiwan and stressed that the matter has nothing to do with the pandemic.
On May 21, Hong Kong stated the reason, claiming that Taiwan has recently interfered in Hong Kong affairs and severely undermined Hong Kong-Taiwan relations. In addition, the office staff has been intimidated by Taiwanese radicals, so the office has been temporarily closed, and all Hong Kong staff have left Taiwan.
The Mainland Affairs Council rejected the allegations as distorted facts and emphasized that it is the Hong Kong government's refusal to issue visas since 2018 that has hindered the rotation and operation of Taiwanese representative personnel in Hong Kong and disrupted the bilateral relationship.
May 21: The drought in central Taiwan is intensifying. There has been no significant rainfall for more than half a year. The largest Deji Reservoir in central Taiwan is facing a bottoming crisis for the first time in 47 years. The water level dropped to 1,322.6 meters on May 21, equivalent to a water strorage rate of 1.36 percent. Based on an estimated daily water intake of about 250,000 metric tons and output of 500,000 tons, there are only 10 days of water stock left. Once the water level drops to 1,320 meters as expected, the raw water will contain excessive sediment and cannot be dispensed for public use.
May 22: The CECC announced 321 new domestic cases of coronavirus. For the first time, the CECC also added 400 cases retroactively, spreading the numbers over the previous six days. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, who heads the CECC, explained that the additional confirmed cases are being supplemented due to delayed notification and does not mean an increase of 721 cases in a single day or a major epidemic outbreak. The term "retroactive correction" sparked heated discussion on the Internet.