Taiwan residents protest vaccine shortage, saying authority prioritizes ‘Taiwan independence’ over life
Published: Jun 27, 2021 10:36 PM
Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

Some residents on the island of Taiwan have gone into the streets to demand vaccines amid cases of the deadly Delta coronavirus variant, while the local authority has blocked shots produced on the Chinese mainland - a major source of COVID-19 vaccines for the world - as it prioritizes the "Taiwan secession" ideology over life and science. 

Hundreds of residents in Taiwan joined a protest on Saturday after 62 "legislators," although the island is in urgent need of vaccines, turned down a proposal requiring the Taiwan authority to import 30 million more shots by the end of August, according to media on the island. 

Hsu Shangsien, convener of the protest, told the media that he had organized the protest, aiming to ask the "legislators" to give the public an explanation for the denial of the proposal. 

During the protest, the attendees held placards reading "Taiwan needs vaccines." They threw water balloons and joss papers when passing one "legislator's" office, moves they had not registered with the police. 

A 73-year-old man surnamed Wu yelled "We do not have vaccines, what do you want us to do?" after the police stopped him from walking up to the office. When asked by reporters "What kind of vaccines do you want?" Wu said "any rather than AstraZeneca, including those produced on the mainland."

At least 193 Taiwan residents have died from adverse reactions since the inoculation campaign began in Taiwan on June 15, starting with the controversial AstraZeneca candidate. The island of 23 million people now has a first dose vaccination rate of about 7 percent.  

Hsu said on Facebook on Sunday that the police had charged him on suspicion of harming public safety, and he claimed that he was "framed" by the police, according to media reports.  

According to media report, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) "legislator" Lo Chih-Cheng previously explained to the media that the proposal was denied as vaccines produced by mainland manufacturers Sinopharm and Sinovac are also on the list of producers recommended in the proposal.

"The proposal in fact is intended to smuggle mainland-produced vaccines into the island," Lo told the media. 

According to screenshots of the proposal circulating on the internet, the proposal did not directly identify Sinopharm and Sinovac, but it recommended that the Taiwan authority purchase vaccines that have been recognized by the World Health Organization, which included vaccines produced by the two mainland producers. 

The key to the problem of the vaccine shortage in the island is that the local authority would in no case accept mainland vaccines - which account for a major portion of global COVID-19 vaccine supplies, Wang Jianmin, a Taiwan affairs expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.

A recent poll showed that 43 percent of the respondents supported Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen's polices in dealing with significant affairs in the island, which Wang said was really "weird" given the worsening epidemic in the island.   

"The phenomenon showed that the island has been contained by the ideological thinking of Taiwan secession, so it prioritizes the principle of being anti-mainland over life and science," Wang said.

The DPP has funded and controlled secessionist media in the island to defend the Tsai authority amid public discontent. Ban on large-scale gathers during the epidemic also helped protect Tsai authority from the public discontent, Wang noted.

The COVID-19 case fatality rate in the island exceeded 4 percent, almost double the world average. As for the Delta variant of the COVID-19 which has spread to more than  90 countries and regions, observers said Taiwan is unlikely to be the exception, so the death toll and even death rate may continue to rise if the island makes no change to medical and screening capacity. 

Many residents have flown to the mainland to be vaccinated amid the worsening epidemic and intensifying vaccine shortage. 

As of May 31, some 62,000 Taiwan compatriots had received their COVID-19 vaccine jabs on the Chinese mainland according to incomplete statistics, according to Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.