With Taiwan’s COVID-19 “ring of steel” breached, the public is demanding vaccines, and politicians are calling for vaccine imports to be expedited. However, the manner in which the debate is being conducted leaves much to be desired.
Some people believe that companies and nonprofit groups should be allowed to import vaccines. This is not as simple as it sounds. The mRNA vaccines made by Moderna and BioNTech need to be stored at extremely low temperatures during their transportation from overseas manufacturing plants to the clinics that administer them.
Regarding the BioNTech vaccine, its export from the EU requires complex paperwork and procedures. It would be extremely difficult for anyone without a pharmaceutical background to attempt to surmount this hurdle, let alone keep it at the required temperature throughout transit.
Additionally, this vaccine has only been granted emergency use authorization from the European Medicines Agency. This means that it can only be sold to companies participating in Germany’s domestic vaccination program; it cannot be bought by individuals or companies. Outside Germany, it can only be sold to governments due to insurance issues.
Although Taiwan has procured about 5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine from Europe, some Taiwanese are urging the government to purchase the German-produced BioNTech vaccine as well.
However, when China’s Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group signed a contract with BioNTech to exclusively develop and sell its mRNA technology in China, it was able to wedge Taiwan into the agreement. Thus, Beijing has prevented Taiwan from buying the vaccine directly from the German manufacturer. Germany and BioNTech’s hands are tied.
How long will the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) continue to act as Beijing’s fifth column in Taiwan? It is doing so by continuing to agitate for the BioNTech vaccine, produced under China’s license.
Uptake of the BioNTech vaccine in Hong Kong has been low. Many Hong Kongers are concerned that the Chinese producer might have altered the vaccine, that cold storage might not have been conducted properly, and generally have lost trust. These fears were seeded by the WHO acquiescing to Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) throughout the pandemic, which many Hong Kongers believe affected the WHO’s decision to authorize emergency use of the Chinese-produced vaccine in Hong Kong.
Hong Kongers are similarly reluctant to take the CoronaVac vaccine, produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech, which has not been peer reviewed by any international scientific journal.
Speaking as one who has lived in Hong Kong and currently works in Germany, I believe that the KMT and the Taiwan People’s Party are deliberately trying to sow confusion and destabilize the government.
Due to Taiwan’s unique circumstances, in advocating for the instigator of the pandemic to gain a foothold over Taiwan’s vaccination program, these parties do not have Taiwan’s best interests at heart; the arguments they put forward would clearly harm the nation.
Taiwan must step up its efforts to develop and manufacture its own vaccines, to prevent the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), through its party-aligned pharmaceutical companies, from placing its foot on Taiwan’s windpipe.
The optimal solution would be for Taiwanese pharmaceutical firms to obtain a production and distribution license from Moderna, Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca.
The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated Taiwan’s biotechnology sector to a key strategic industry as important to the nation as the semiconductor arena; both could be called upon to help protect the nation in the years ahead.
Despite this, the KMT appears to be taking orders from Beijing. Having failed in its attempts to destroy Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, the CCP, aided and abetted by the KMT, is now trying to crush Taiwan’s biotechnology sector. Anyone paying attention should recognize that the KMT does not have Taiwan’s best interests at heart.
Martin Oei is a Hong Kong-born British political commentator based in Germany.
Translated by Edward Jones
The small Baltic nation of Lithuania last week announced that it would accept a Taiwanese representative office in its capital, Vilnius, and that it would establish its own trade office in Taiwan by the end of the year. This was more than a welcome announcement to Taiwan and goes far beyond the normal establishment of trade relations. Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis summed it up succinctly, boldly saying: “Freedom-loving people should look out for each other.” With these words, Landsbergis was purposefully going beyond normal diplomacy; he was also presenting a moral challenge and reminder to other democratic nations. A look
Having deceived the world about its nuclear capabilities while preparing for an arms race, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now using its increasing nuclear forces for virtual nuclear coercion. This new threat will continue until the United States, Japan, and Taiwan can restore the CCP’s sense of fear. This dynamic is a familiar one for Taiwan. As the CCP’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) capabilities have grown, its inhibitions about conducting larger and more frequent coercive military demonstrations have shrunk. The PLA now more openly practices for the destruction of Taiwan’s democracy and the murder of its citizens. In the nuclear realm,
The Tokyo Olympics will perhaps be remembered as one of the oddest Games in the event’s long and checkered history. Held amid a global pandemic, spectators are banned from most venues, leaving athletes to play out their feats of sporting brilliance in eerie silence. Meanwhile, furious Tokyo residents wave placards outside some venues, calling for the Games’ cancelation. Adding to the incongruity of it all, the entire Russian team is absent, banned due to a doping scandal. That the Tokyo Olympics went ahead at all has been extremely contentious in Japan. Critics fear a mass outbreak of the highly contagious Delta
Just a few days after an outbreak of locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in May announced that a domestically produced vaccine against the virus would become available late this month. At the time, even though the government had placed orders for the Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, just 700,000 of the doses had arrived, and many Taiwanese were reluctant to get inoculated, in no small part due to the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) disinformation campaign about the AstraZeneca vaccine’s alleged shortcomings. Before the outbreak, the government had been successful in keeping the number of infections to a minimum,