In Taiwan, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic situation is deteriorating rapidly. The alert level was upgraded from level 1 to level 3 within just a few days. Pictured above are consumers doing panic buying for necessities like sanitary alcohol, masks, rice, and instant noodles.
United Daily News)
New Measures Implemented as Virus Alert Raised to Level 3 in Taiwan
United Daily News, May 16, 2021
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic situation took a downturn as a spike of 180 confirmed cases were reported in Taiwan on May 15, 2021, in which 164 cases were in the municipalities Taipei and New Taipei. The Executive Yuan announced on May 16 that the virus in these two cities were raised to level 3. Experts pointed out that our disease prevention policy was at a watershed moment and the prevention measures should turn from external blockade to internal control.
The number of locally transmitted cases reached three digits, and the cases are concentrated in 8 counties and cities north of Changhua. The test positivity rates at fast screening stations in Wanhua District of Taipei reached 10 percent and 132 cases are still waiting to sort out the source of infection.
According to a commentator, the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen wasted valuable time since the past year until the current outbreak. Now, with neither sufficient vaccines nor hospital beds, the people are recognizing that the government is only promoting propaganda. Local governments have to help themselves even with quick testing.
Failed Coronavirus Screening, Minister Chen a Fraudster
By Wang Ren-xian
China Times, May 15, 2021
Infectious respiratory diseases come and go without a trace, and it is impossible to stop them with aimless protection. One of the reasons is that masks and hand hygiene are not 100-percent effective, and the other is that people’s alertness may get fatigued and compliance get diminished over time. With such a strong awareness of personal hygiene among the people, the Novotel-China Airlines incident has evolved into such a serious outbreak of community infection. Obviously, the key to the problem is not protection.
The key to the success of Taiwan's first stage of epidemic prevention is not the people's habit of wearing masks but the screening of all inbound travelers. Everyone who enters Taiwan is requested to be diagnosed as a possible source of infection at the border, and must take a fever screening and a 14-day-quarantine at home. Therefore, the customs have blocked all patients from abroad, and ensured the safety of Taiwan. Just recently, because of the shortening of the inspection time for crew members and neglected to give them vaccination, it caused a disaster that could wipe out Taiwan. Some high-raking officials blamed the general public for not vigilant enough; they just shirk their responsibilities. If not so, how could those officials weeks ago praise the general public for wearing masks, and only days ago the community infections broke out?
According to Su Chi, former secretary-general of the National Security Council, although tensions in the Taiwan Strait have eased, there are only three choices for Taiwan's future security, among which maintaining Taiwan's security through the United States remains the only viable option. Pictured above is the USS Nimitz carrier strike group of the United States Navy.
Normally it would suffice for Taiwan to pay only due attention to the domestic politics of the United States. However, after President Tsai Ing-wen tied Taiwan’s fate and security so closely to the U.S., we ought to sharpen our focus on what transpires there. It is believed that had Donald Trump been re-elected as President in 2020, the probability of conflict in the Taiwan Strait would have shot up. While enjoying the temporary reprieve now, it behooves us to remember that the key to Taiwan’s security is still hidden in faraway American politics. Why?
The decision on peace or war in the Strait is made not by Taiwan, but by the Chinese mainland, especially Xi Jinping. Unless the Mainland is willing to drag the status quo indefinitely into the future, three options are available to them: (1) to negotiate directly with Taiwan, (2) to resolve the Taiwan issue through the U.S., or (3) to solve it unilaterally.
The pandemic situation in Taiwan continues to deteriorate. Taiwan stocks collapsed as investors lost confidence. May 12 marked the worst single-day drop, with the stock index down 8.55 percent at one point.
May 10: It is reported that the Penghu Defense Command, Huadong Command, and the 6th, 8th, and 10th Regiments of the Army will be renamed to five Combat Zones. Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng confirmed this on May 10 and expressed hopes that this arrangement will enable commanders of combat zones to better coordinate the army, navy, and air forces and strengthen the joint combat capability of the military. This move will change the status quo in Taiwan where army generals serve as theater commanders.
May 10: The storm from the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection of China Airlines pilots continues to grow. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced a "Zero Clearing Program 2.0," where all pilots will be recalled for quarantine for 14 days. No one operating airplanes is translating to dramatic impact to China Airlines, which relies heavily upon its cargo business. Because Eva Air does not have many cargo planes, it will be difficult for cargo to be shared. Exports of semiconductors and other high-technology products are expected to bear the brunt.
May 10: The Ministry of Finance recently announced amendments to regulatory measures related to electronic payments, providing that the tax authorities can collect personal information from electronic payment providers. In other words, information like phone numbers, national identification numbers, and account IDs of consumers who use electronic payment methods like JKOPay and O'Pay to spend more than NT$480,000 (about US$17,158) in six months will be submitted to the tax authorities. As soon as this notice was published, many Internet users immediately criticized the measure as an invasion of privacy.
May 12: The coronavirus pandemic continues to break out. After sliding some 652 points on May 11, Taiwan stocks on May 12 continued to fall 1,147 points or 8.55 percent at one point, setting the record for the largest drop. The stock index closed 680 points lower than the previous trading day, at 15,902 points, with an astonishing daily trading volume of NT$772.7 billion (about US$27.6 billion).
May 14: A busbar failure occurred at an ultra-high voltage sub-station in Luzhu District, Kaohsiung at 2:37 PM on May 13. Four units at the Xingda Power Plant tripped, causing a major power outage across Taiwan, disrupting businesses and traffic. Power supply was not restored until about 8 PM, and the outage affected some 4.16 million households over six rounds of regional power suspensions. The Taipower Comapny will compensate a sum of NT$470 million (about US$16.8 million). In an emergency press conference held in the evening, President Tsai Ing-wen explained that the major blackout was due to a power grid problem and apologized to the people.
According to Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua on May 14, investigation of the cause of the power outage found that a staff member of Taipower accidentally turned on the isolation switch during the test of the transmission expansion project, which caused a ground fault of the bus bar, in turn causing the Xingda Power Plant to trip. The major blackout exposes the government's claim that Taiwan is not short of power is only an illusion, critics claim.
May 14: Taiwan's Apple Daily published an open letter to readers in the evening, stating that due to unbearable business losses, deterioration of the political situation of Hong Kong, and pro-China forces suppressing various advertising resources, the newspaper will cease print publication from May 18 and concentrate its resources on developing its website. Apple Daily launched publication in Taiwan 18 years ago and has exerted a huge impact on Taiwan's media environment.
May 14: The Central Election Commission held a committee meeting and approved referendum cases on preserving algal reefs, opposing American pork containing the additive ractopamine, and tying referendum votes to general elections. In addition to the previously approved referendum case on resuming the 4th Nuclear Power Plant, there will be a total of four referendum cases on the ballot August 28 this year.