The second set of charter flights carrying Taiwanese who had been quarantined in China was delayed earlier this week due to last-minute, unilateral actions by Chinese authorities.
Chinese health officials initially refused to allow the evacuees to wear protective medical clothing on the flight, despite strict directives from the Central Epidemic Command Center to do so. Chinese authorities also tried to place 30 people on the flight who were not on the original manifest.
China had put additional passengers on the first charter flight last month, one of whom was later confirmed to be infected with COVID-19, causing an uproar when it was reported in the media. People could be forgiven for assuming that China sought to trigger a COVID-19 pandemic in Taiwan, where the disease has been kept under control due to the hard work of the center and the cooperation of the public.
One evacuee reported that members of the Chinese flight crew on one of this week’s China Eastern Airlines charter flights were wearing protective clothing, demonstrating that Chinese officials did not believe the clothing was as unnecessary as they claimed. Meanwhile, Chinese state media lambasted the Taiwanese government for “obstructing the return home of Taiwanese.”
The coronavirus, which originated in China and is suspected of having been manufactured in a Chinese lab, has wreaked havoc around the globe. International events have been canceled for the year, stock markets have plummeted, people have lost their jobs, and entire industries are hanging by a thread as manufacturing is disrupted and consumers stay home. This is a time for Beijing to show some humility. Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) should be apologizing to the world for the incalculable destruction caused by his administration’s failures, but the Chinese government remains obstinate and blames others.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should take advantage of her second term to place an embargo on China or, at the very least, to strictly limit Taiwanese study and business in the country — limits that would remain in place after the threat of COVID-19 has passed. China presents a legitimate threat to Taiwan, militarily, economically, socially and now medically. Tsai could remain open to dialogue with China on an official level, as well as schedule some vetted exchanges such as sports events, but individual travel in either direction for pleasure, study or work should be curbed or halted until China is no longer a threat to Taiwan.
The center on Tuesday held its ground in its insistence on protective clothing and rejection of additional passengers — ultimately succeeding. This should serve as a precedent for the administration: There should be no ceding to China on cross-strait issues or other diplomatic affairs if Taiwan is being disrespected, or its rights and regulations are being trampled on.
The government should make it clear to Taiwanese who choose to travel to China that it does not have regular diplomatic relations with Beijing, so travelers should not expect assistance if problems arise.
In December last year, the Central News Agency reported that the number of Taiwanese working in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, had reached a 10-year low, but more than 400,000 Taiwanese still work in China, the No. 1 destination for Taiwanese working abroad. Tsai should know the motivations of those seeking work in China. If it is simply a matter of job opportunities, she could work with Taiwanese companies to find suitable local placements, or positions with Taiwanese companies overseas. Serious thought should be put into how salaries in Taiwan could be raised to a level more on par with the nation’s neighbors.
The Chinese Communist Party has always been a threat to democratic Taiwan, something that China being the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic simply underlines. The government must seek to distance Taiwan and its citizens from this threat.
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
As the nation welcomes home Taiwanese who had been stranded in China’s Hubei Province — arguably one of the most dangerous places on Earth since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in its capital, Wuhan, late last year — problems surrounding the “quasi-charter flights” that brought them back have been largely overlooked. The media used the term to describe the two flights dispatched by Taiwan’s state-run China Airlines because they do not count as charter flights. Taiwanese wanting to board those flights had to travel — most likely by train — more than 1,000km from Hubei to Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Burger King Taiwan on Wednesday last week posted an update on Facebook advertising a new “Wuhan pneumonia” (武漢肺炎) home delivery meal, catering to customers hankering for a Whopper, but who wished to avoid visiting one of its outlets. “Wuhan pneumonia” is the term commonly used in Taiwan to describe COVID-19. Beijing has been waging an extensive propaganda campaign against the use of the words “Wuhan” or “China” in reference to the novel coronavirus, calling it racist and discriminatory. Meanwhile, Chinese officials have claimed that the coronavirus might have originated in the US. The intention is obvious: to distract attention from the Chinese Communist