With another 355 local infections reported on Sunday, the COVID-19 pandemic situation in Taiwan remains worrying.
Yet instead of looking into what has caused the recent surge in cases on the island and finding ways to improve its prevention and control work, the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party has chosen to play a blame game against the Chinese mainland, in a bid to cover up its own ineptitude in the fight against the pandemic.
Without offering any substantial evidence to support her claim, the leader of the island’s administration, Tsai Ing-wen, claimed last week that Beijing was instrumental in preventing Taiwan from buying vaccines from German company BioNTech. “Because of China’s intervention, we still can’t sign the contract,” she was quoted as telling a DPP meeting.
The remarks were duplicitous given that they were intended to portray the mainland as being utterly callous and dismissive of Taiwan compatriots’ well-being in a time of adversity, thus fanning ill will toward the mainland. In this way, the DPP hopes to turn the public health challenge into political gain.
Yet the DPP will not succeed in fooling the public since the trick it is trying so hard to play is full of flaws.
Actually, it is the DPP itself that has blocked Taiwan’s access to urgently needed vaccines.
The mainland-based Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group — which signed a deal with BioNTech to exclusively develop and commercialize the vaccine using BioNTech’s technology on the mainland, and in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan — has said many times it was willing to provide the island with the vaccine. Moreover, the mainland authorities offered to provide the COVID-19 vaccines developed by mainland companies to Taiwan immediately after a sharp rise in coronavirus infections on the island in mid-May.
Unfortunately, all such offers have been rejected by the DPP government out of hand on the false premise that vaccines, so long as they are from the mainland, are not safe enough.
Such a claim is humiliating, and goes against all the evidence. The mainland has administered 603 million doses of vaccines, and shared its vaccines with dozens of countries worldwide without any problems emerging. Reputable medical studies, such as the one published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, have also concluded vaccines made by the mainland are safe and effective against COVID-19, which explains why one of Sinopharm’s vaccines recently won the backing of the World Health Organization for emergency use.
Each day that the DPP wastes by setting up obstacles to addressing the vaccine shortage on the island means more lives lost. It must stop playing its cold-hearted political game to save lives.