Water shortages in Taiwan man-made calamity caused by DPP authorities
Published: Apr 11, 2021 04:21 PM
This picture taken on March 16, 2021 shows an aerial view of a dry river bed in Taiwan's Pingtung county. Photo: VCG

This picture taken on March 16, 2021 shows an aerial view of a dry river bed in Taiwan's Pingtung county. Photo: VCG

Since the beginning of spring this year, the island of Taiwan has suffered the worst drought and water shortage crisis in nearly 70 years. Riyue Tan, or the Sun Moon Lake, the biggest freshwater lake and well-known landmark of Taiwan, has dried up. The storage capacity of most reservoirs in central and southern regions of the island has plummeted to 10 percent of normal reserves. 

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities began to implement water restriction measures in cities such as Miaoli and Taichung on April 6. It is estimated that at least 1.06 million local residents will be directly affected. The catering and hotel industries in the central region have also been affected. Even menus of middle and elementary school students in the central region have been changed. Leafy vegetables are replaced by frozen vegetables or ready-to-eat food - even soups seem to be a luxury.

The water shortage is impacting Taiwan's leading industry - chip production - which consumes a huge amount of water. To ensure stable water consumption for chip manufacturers, the DPP authorities cut off the irrigation system to a large number of farmlands. This affected about 74,000 hectares of farmland, accounting for one-fifth of the island's total irrigated land. Taiwan economic affairs authority head Wang Mei-hua said the relevant water cut-off measures are a long-term battle. When it will end depends on whether or not the heavens will do a favor.

The DPP authorities failed to make water-saving measures earlier when they had advanced warning. This has resulted in the large water shutdown. Faced with the water shortage crisis, they failed to take effective measures and even remained indifferent. Taiwan residents affected by the water shortage directly complained - what's the use of the DPP authorities if they can't resolve the suffering of the people?

The water crisis this time on Taiwan highlights the DPP's inability to govern the island. It will also exacerbate the crisis of the current authorities.

As is known to all, the DPP has always been good at playing political games and political tricks. It is truly inferior at managing problems in people's livelihood. Although they can cheat themselves into ruling power, once faced with major economic and social management problems, the shortcomings of poor ruling ability will be immediately exposed. In fact, the drought situation emerged on the island as early as the second half of 2020. Taiwan's industrial, agricultural and livelihood water mainly depends on the abundant rainfall during the typhoon season. Last year, at least seven typhoons were generated in the Western Pacific region, but none of them hit the island. Annual rainfall hit the lowest level in more than half a century, indicating that the whole island will face an unprecedented drought and water shortage crisis in early 2021.

However, the DPP authorities have been too busy smearing the mainland and seeking secession with the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic while cozying up to the US. They have no regard for possible future water shortages. Taiwan's Water Resources Agency has neither conducted artificial rainfall operations, nor carried out water conservation measures. It did not take any initiative to explore new water resources. The DPP authorities turned a blind eye and were indifferent to early drought prevention. Soo Tsing-tshiong, leader of Taiwan's "executive authority," even said Taiwan is at the same latitude as the Sahara Desert and the Arabian Desert, so that water shortages can be expected.

Only when the drought caused crop damages in March this year did the DPP authorities realize the seriousness of the problem. To solve this challenge, they stopped and restricted water supply, asking everyone to work together to overcome the hardships. They also made a hasty last-minute effort by organizing an assembly to pray for rain. As some political figures in Taiwan pointed out, the DPP authorities' massive infrastructure program swindled a large budget, but failed to solve the island's water shortage problem. This reflects the DPP's incompetence in governance. Although the current drought and water shortage crisis in Taiwan seems to be a natural disaster, it is actually a man-made calamity caused by the DPP authorities. 

The author is vice director and professor of the Taiwan Research Institute at Beijing Union University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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