Taiwan’s DPP aims at wrong target during COVID-19 fight: Global Times editorial
Published: May 18, 2021 09:02 PM
Tsai Ing-wen Photo:VCG

Tsai Ing-wen Photo:VCG

Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities must be blamed for such a massive outbreak of COVID-19 in the island. Taiwan people's cooperation and self-discipline in the prevention of the epidemic had been the island's great achievement, but the DPP authorities paid more attention on how to consume this achievement politically, rather than seriously preparing for the subsequent impact of the epidemic. As a result, the whole society paid the price for the current situation.

This wave of epidemic in Taiwan was caused by the Taiwan-based China Airlines bringing the virus to the island. There was a serious loophole in the quarantine hotel, and the follow-up trace and quarantine of the infected and the close contacts were not resolute. This exposed the systematic weakness. After more than 100 new cases were confirmed in a single day, the DPP authorities were still hesitant to implement the highest level of prevention and control. This is similar to China Airlines' failure to block the infection chain in time.

The DPP authorities have not been attentive enough to fight the epidemic and they have too many political considerations. In terms of the COVID-19 fight, they regard Taiwan as the so-called "top student in the democratic system." They always want to refer to this label to decide their anti-epidemic measures. The DPP authorities try to please the US and the Western world, and help them smear the Chinese mainland's COVID-19 fight. However, the effective way of the COVID-19 fight has nothing to do with politics. Any kind of politicization may affect epidemic prevention measures.

Taiwan has been short of vaccines. Taiwan's COVID-19 vaccination rate has so far been less than one percent, which is lower than that of India and lags behind some developing countries and regions. It's a big hidden danger. However, Taiwan's authorities are not really worried about this big loophole. Instead, Taiwan's so-called "diplomatic" system has focused on obtaining vaccines for "allies," trying to win their support for Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly.

Taiwan could have had a reliable source of vaccines, which is the Chinese mainland. The WHO gave emergency approval to the mainland's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine this month. However, the DPP authorities regard the mainland's vaccines as a dangerous bomb. On Monday, considering Taiwan's serious epidemic situation, the mainland sent the goodwill of offering to provide COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan compatriots. But at this critical juncture, the mainland affairs council on the island still let politics in. It flatly rejected the mainland and claimed that the mainland was pretending to be well-intentioned.

Taiwan, home to about 23 million people, is now witnessing 200-300 new cases every day. This is a clear sign that the epidemic has gone out of control. At this point, clues for epidemiologic investigation of many cases have been lost, and an island-wide testing, finding out every possible case accurately is the only way. However, the DPP seems to be afraid of mass testing, worrying that it could bring a surge in the number of patients, which is politically unbearable. It must be said they are concealing their fault for fear of criticism. 

There are too many political considerations on the island. Various political calculations have constituted the main logic of Taiwan's current strategy to fight COVID-19. Protecting the health and lives of island people has been placed to a lower level. This is the fundamental reason why they would rather see more people infected, or even die, as they are waiting for US vaccines instead of using vaccines from and cooperate with the Chinese mainland, even though they have no idea when US vaccines will arrive.

The head of Taiwan's Kinmen county on Monday called on the Taiwan authorities to allow the county to directly purchase vaccines from the mainland. It's believed Kinmen is not the only place in Taiwan that has such a wish. But it's very doubtful whether Taiwan authorities would permit this for the sake of protecting people. 

Many people predict that the Taiwan authorities are now mulling how to shift the blame for the outbreak of this round of epidemic to the mainland and fabricate stories about how the island's absence in WHO causes its lack of anti-pandemic information. Let's see what happens next. 

The mainland cares for the Taiwan island's epidemic out of humanitarianism, but this goodwill cannot reach the Taiwanese people because of the political obstacles set by the DPP authorities. It's very irresponsible for the DPP authorities to do so. They will be punished by God if Taiwan people lose health and lives because of them. Politics should give way to health and life, rather than setting up barriers at this critical moment.