Taiwan again offers to help China with surge in Covid-19 cases, awaits response

Unclear if China will accept.

Yen Zhi Yi | January 07, 2023, 12:30 PM

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Taiwan has again offered to help China to deal with its outbreak of Covid cases, but as of Jan. 5, has yet to receive a response from Chinese authorities, according to Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA).

Surge in Covid-19 cases after ending abruptly zero Covid

The rapid outbreak of cases came after China abruptly ended its stringent zero-Covid policy in early December 2022.

Concern has been growing with the surge as China has also eased its quarantine rules, making it easier for locals to travel overseas and return.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has voiced concern about the fact that China might have been under-reporting its Covid data, such as Covid-related deaths, according to Reuters.

New restrictions have already been implemented in some countries for travellers arriving from China, such as in Japan and South Korea.

Willing to help a 2nd time

According to CNA, the Head of Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Centre (CECC), Victor Wang, said on Jan. 5 that they had told Chinese authorities that they are willing to cooperate with them to help fight the Covid-19 surge.

In a New Year’s Day address on Jan. 1, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen also echoed similar sentiments.

She said that based on humanitarian needs, Taiwan would be willing to provide necessary assistance to China to help it get through the pandemic and let their citizens enjoy a “healthy and safe New Year”.

Dependent on China's response

In an interview with the press on Jan. 5, Taiwan’s Health Minister Hsueh Jui-yuan said that Taiwan would put out their offer for assistance to China first, whether in terms of providing vaccines or medication.

However, they would need to see whether China accepts their offer and it is currently still inconvenient to disclose any further relevant details.

Wang also told CNA that as early as Dec. 2 2022, the CECC has already contacted relevant Chinese epidemic teams to remind them to pay special attention to children with severe illnesses.

Initially, it was to share about Taiwan’s epidemic prevention experience, but in the past two days, Wang emailed the relevant parties again to ask if there is any area Taiwan could help with.

A reply has not been received as of Jan. 5.

He added that there are many aspects of cooperation, such as the sharing of technology, experience and equipment, but Taiwan remains unsure on what China actually needs.

He emphasised that since the population of China is much larger, their demand could be higher than what Taiwan can supply, so they might also not ask for help either.

Others have also offered assistance

In December 2022, the U.S. expressed its readiness to help deal with the surge of Covid-19 infections in China if Beijing ever requests assistance, according to John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, Reuters reported.

Earlier in the week, the European Union (EU) also agreed to help China deal with the rising Covid cases with free Covid-19 vaccines.

In response, the spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry Mao Ning said in a press conference on Jan. 3 that China, having “the world’s largest production lines of Covid vaccines”, possessed sufficient vaccine doses to meet the needs of their population.

She also said that China remains ready to step up communication and cooperation with the international community to prevail over the virus.

Back in 2021, when China's zero Covid policy was in effect and cases were relatively low, it offered vaccines to Taiwan residents who could fly over to the mainland.

A spokesman for China's Taiwan office then urged Taiwanese authorities to "earnestly listen to the voices of the people on the island" to remove "man-made obstacles" for vaccines from mainland China to be delivered to Taiwan as soon as possible.

In response, Taiwan rejected the offer, labelling it "political warfare" and accused China of interfering with Taiwan's attempts to procure vaccines from western countries.

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Top images via Getty/SOPA Images & YouTube/presidentialoffice