How would 'Taiwan-independence' mindset dampen local economy?
A view of Kaohsiung, China's Taiwan region. /CFP

A view of Kaohsiung, China's Taiwan region. /CFP

China's Taiwan region is suffering a heavy setback from the COVID-19 pandemic as the island's authorities fail to adopt feasible policies that fundamentally solve the plight of its economy under the "Taiwan-independence" mindset.

Taiwan is still faced with a low vaccination rate as the island has settled on imported vaccines from AstraZeneca and Moderna out of the "independence" concerns. 

It said no to vaccine aid from the Chinese mainland, which expressed its willingness time and again to provide COVID-19 related support in any form.  

Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said in early June that the mainland would do its utmost to help Taiwan compatriots on COVID-19 inoculation. 

But things changed as the island's residents keep whining about the authorities' inability to ensure sufficient supply of the imported vaccines.

Last Monday, Shanghai-based Fosun Pharmaceutical Group, signed agreements with Taiwan-based Foxconn and the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to provide 10 million doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines during a major shortage on the island.

Fosun is the sole sales agent of BioNTech for the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Macao Special Administrative Region and Taiwan region. 

The deal was finally sealed after months of stagnation as local authorities insisted on purchasing vaccines from BioNTech directly rather than from Shanghai's Fosun. The failed attempt wasted precious time as residents were in urgent need of vaccines.

The local health authority on last Saturday announced about 4.79 million people, roughly 20 percent of Taiwan's 23.5 million population, have wrapped up at least one dose of a two-shot regime since the vaccination campaign started on March 22, almost four months ago. 

"There is no place for politics where health is concerned … [the] repeated shunning of offers from the mainland to help control the island's COVID-19 crisis and instead accepting vaccines from Washington and Tokyo proves her (Tsai Ing-wen) priorities are wrong," SCMP reported in June. 

The region's inflation gauge consumer price index rose from -0.16 percent in January to 2.48 percent in May, reaching a record high since March 2013, according to the authorities. 

In April, a package of vegetables priced around NT$30 was common in supermarkets. Nonetheless, the outbreak of the local contagion and several heavy rains led to a reduction in supply. Now the price is around NT$50, Xinhua News Agency reported. 

A large chunk of people lost income or even jobs amid the COVID-19 wave.  

Statistics released by the local labor authority on July 1 showed that the number of firms implementing unpaid leave climbed from 987 in the previous week to 1,305 in the past week, and the number of people involved soared by 33 percent. 

In the absence of its trade with the mainland, Taiwan would have seen a huge trade deficit, and it's unlikely its economy could maintain positive growth in 2020, Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said last December. 

The trade volume between the mainland and Taiwan stood at $260.81 billion from January through to December last year, up 14.3 percent on the year, according to the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). The mainland's exports to Taiwan totaled $60.14 billion in the interim, a 9.1-percent ascent over that of 2019, while the island's exports to the mainland settled at $200.66 billion, a year-on-year growth of 16 percent. 

The island saw a trade surplus of $140.52 billion with the mainland back in 2020, with Taiwan being the mainland's eighth largest trade partner and third biggest source of imports. The Chinese mainland is Taiwan's largest trading partner and source of trade surplus, showed MOFCOM data.

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