Taiwan sees daily cases fall below 100, extends level three response to July 12

Taiwan saw daily local Covid cases fall below 100 for the first time in a month on Monday, June 21, with 75 cases and 20 deaths. The next day, June 22, saw 78 local cases and six deaths, but today, June 23, saw 104 cases and 24 deaths.
The authorities also today extended the current Level Three response, which was set to end on June 28, to July 12.

The ongoing Covid outbreak, along with the rising death toll and vaccination scarcity, has put a huge dent in President Tsai Ing-wen’s popularity and threatens the DPP’s chances in next year’s local elections, as reported by SCMP.

Taiwan should implement stronger measures such as enforce work-from-home and lower mobility as well as widening testing to fully clamp down on Covid, these two experts make the case in Commonwealth Magazine.

Several major electronics groups including Canon have barred their migrant laborers from leaving their dorms except to work, as reported by Financial Times. This is sadly a continuation of serious mistreatment of migrant workers in Taiwan, which has been exacerbated as part of measures to deal with the spread of Covid.

When the Chinese military flew 28 planes towards Taiwan last Tuesday, June 15, several flew south towards Pratas Island, a small islet in the South China Sea manned by Taiwanese coast guard and marines. If China launches an attack on Taiwan, Pratas would be extremely vulnerable and a likely target, as reported by Bloomberg.

The closing statement of the G-7 leaders last week specifically mentioned the “Taiwan Strait,” which indirectly refers to Taiwan, and this has both positive and negative effects, as reported by the South China Morning Post. The statement would also not boost Taiwan’s chances of getting more recognition or support from other Asian countries, according to experts quoted in the article.

The US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the country’s top general, dismissed the possibility of an imminent Chinese invasion of Taiwan, citing the lack of military capability and intention, as reported by Financial Times.

Taiwan needs “all the western allies it can get” to stand up to China’s harassment, especially as Taiwan lacks a political and strategic culture to adequately cope with these threats, argues Edward Lucas in the Times.

Taiwan recalled all but one of its diplomatic staff in Hong Kong after they were asked to sign a document agreeing to the One China Policy to have their visas renewed.

Last year, five Hong Kongers managed to reach Taiwan after taking boat into the South China Sea and being picked up Taiwan’s Coast Guard. They then spent months in Taiwan under wraps, as the worried government feared China could use them as a pretense for invasion, before managing to get to the US where they were granted asylum, as reported in this Wall Street Journal feature.

Foreign direct investment in Taiwan by value fell by 42 percent for the first five months of this year, driven by Covid concerns. Investment from China dropped sharply while those from countries in Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy rose by 66 percent.

Exports rose by 34.5 percent year-on-year in May, the 15th straight month of increase, boosted by strong international orders.