The US has been forced to quell a number of foreign policy spats in recent days as normally blunt-talking Secretary of State Colin Powell struggles to learn the tactful art of "diplospeak," the State Department conceded on Tuesday. \nAt least twice in the past week, Powell has made unscripted remarks about extremely sensitive international disputes in Asia and the Middle East that have infuriated countries in those regions and required US diplomats to engage in serious damage-control efforts. \nOn March 9, Powell angered China by referring to Taiwan, which it views as a rebel province, as the "Republic of China" twice during testimony to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, causing the State Department to scramble to assure Beijing that its policy toward Taiwan had not changed. \nBeijing has long opposed the official recognition of Taiwan by officials of countries that maintain diplomatic relations with China, a condition that also extends to the use of Taiwan's official name. \nChinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said on Tuesday that China had made "solemn representations" to Washington expressing its "great concern and dissatisfaction" over the incident. \nState Department spokesman Richard Boucher acknowledged that China had sought clarification about the use of the term and that "we replied very clearly that the US policy has not changed." \n"The US side emphasized it was purely a slip of the tongue by the secretary of state and did not mean any change to the "one China" policy pursued by the US side," Boucher said in a routine briefing. \nBoucher said that Washington had not apologized to China but refused to say if State Department officials had suggested that Powell not use the term in future. \n"I'm not going to get into our discussions with the secretary, I'd just say that we don't normally use the term and I don't think we'll be using it in the future," he said. \nOn March 7, speaking at a hearing before the House International Relations Committee, Powell referred to the holy city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, incensing the Arab world and possibly complicating already fragile Middle East peace efforts. \nBoth Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital and Israel's claim over the whole of the city, the Arab eastern part of which it captured and annexed in the 1967 Middle East war, has never been recognized by the international community. \nUS policy has long held that the status of Jerusalem should be decided in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and Washington has kept its embassy in Tel Aviv to avoid inflaming the dispute. \nBoucher sought to downplay the negative reactions from the Arabs and the Chinese, describing their responses as inquiries about possible subtle policy changes rather than protestations.
PRIORITY GROUPS: A line of people were waiting at the Good Liver Clinic, apparently to get shots, while the CECC announced more priority groups for jabs The Taipei-based Good Liver Clinic is to be fined NT$2 million (US$72,028) after giving free COVID-19 vaccine shots to people not in groups eligible to receive them, Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) said yesterday. The Zhongshan District (中山)-based clinic was removed from the city’s list of vaccination venues and health officials would be investigated for giving 1,113 doses to the clinic, Huang told an afternoon news conference at Taipei City Hall. The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) on Tuesday in an exclusive story citing an anonymous tip reported that a Taipei clinic was doling out unused vaccines. People in
‘GOOD SIGN’: Thanks to public efforts, the number of COVID-19 cases is on a downward trend, the minister of health said, but told people not to let their guard down The COVID-19 situation appears to be relatively stable and on a downward trend, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday, as he reported 185 domestic COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths. “This seems to be a relatively good sign,” Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), told a daily news briefing. In Taipei and New Taipei City, the overall situation seems to be heading in a good direction, he added. He attributed it to public efforts to control the spread of the virus, but warned people against letting their guard down. Of the new local cases, 83 are males and
PHASE 2: The firm’s CEO said that the results were good and the experimental vaccine safe, but added that hoped-for phase 3 trials would be expensive Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp (高端疫苗) yesterday reported positive results from an interim analysis of phase 2 trials for its COVID-19 vaccine, saying that the vaccine demonstrated high seroconversion rates and geometric mean titer (GMT) figures. A seroconversion rate is the percentage of participants in a trial displaying virus-specific immune memory after being given a vaccine, while the GMT measures the level of neutralizing antibody response, Medigen said. The experimental vaccine has a seroconversion rate of 99.8 percent and its GMT was 662 among the participants aged 20 to 89, while the gauges rose to 99.9 percent and 733 respectively in participants aged
ROLLING OUT DOSES: The expansion aims to speed up Taiwan’s vaccination drive by making more Moderna jabs available to workers at hospitals, the CECC said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday expanded the eligibility for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to all healthcare workers and non-healthcare workers in the highest vaccine priority group. The center said that 75,000 doses of the vaccine — half of the first batch Taiwan has received — were on Wednesday distributed to hospitals across the nation with specialized COVID-19 rooms, negative pressure wards and testing services. Thus far, they had only been offered to frontline healthcare workers and non-healthcare workers at the designated hospitals, it said. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the eligibility was