Monday, June 07, 2021

US promises vaccines for Taiwan amid China row

Taipei: The US will give Taiwan 750,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, part of President Joe Biden’s move to share tens of millions of jabs globally, three American senators said on Sunday, after the self-ruled island complained that China is hindering its efforts to secure vaccines as it battles an outbreak.

Democratic senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who made a three-hour stop in Taiwan with fellow Democrat Christopher Coons of Delaware and Republican Dan Sullivan of Alaska, said their visit underscores bipartisan US support for the democratic island that Beijing claims as its own renegade territory. Taiwan faces a severe vaccine shortage and has geopolitical significance as a flashpoint in US-China relations.

In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, President Tsai Ing-wen, second right, and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, right, listen as Republican senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska at left speaks next to Democratic senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois in Taipei, Taiwan, on Sunday.
In this photo released by the Taiwan Presidential Office, President Tsai Ing-wen, second right, and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, right, listen as Republican senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska at left speaks next to Democratic senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois in Taipei, Taiwan, on Sunday.CREDIT:AP

“I’m here to tell you that the United States will not let you stand alone,” Duckworth said at the airport after landing on a US military transport plane. “We will be by your side to make sure the people of Taiwan have what they need to get to the other side of the pandemic and beyond.”

Taiwan was included on a long list of places announced last week that would receive 25 million doses from the United States in what the Biden administration says is the first tranche of at least 80 million doses to be distributed globally. Most of the first tranche, including Taiwan’s, will be sent through COVAX, a UN-backed program to distribute vaccines to low and middle-income countries.

The island of 24 million people, which lies 160 kilometres off China’s east coast, is desperate for vaccines after a sudden outbreak that started in late April caught authorities by surprise. Japan shipped 1.2 million doses to Taiwan on Friday, opting to skip the COVAX process in the interest of speed. It was unclear when the 750,000 American doses would arrive.

Taiwan reported 343 new domestic COVID-19 cases on Sunday, including eight added to totals for recent days as authorities readjust infection numbers following delays in reporting positive tests.

The total was down from the 511 domestic infections reported on Saturday.

Taiwan has accused China of blocking its efforts to reach a deal with BioNTech to import the vaccine co-developed by the German company and Pfizer. Beijing has said it is willing to supply vaccines to Taiwan, including BioNTech, through Chinese partner Fosun, and that the island’s government is to blame for putting politics above the lives of its people. Taiwanese law bans the import of Chinese-made medicines.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, welcoming the senators at the airport, said that Taiwan is fortunate to have like-minded countries showing support, which he said is about sustaining freedom and democracy in the face of autocracy.

“Taiwan is facing unique challenges in combating the virus,” he said. “While we are doing our best to import vaccines, we must overcome obstacles to ensure that these life-saving medicine are delivered free from troubles of Beijing.”

He said China is trying to block Taiwan’s international assistance and prevent it from participating in the World Health Organisation. “We are no strangers to that kind of obstructionism,” he said.

Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, and most Taiwanese favour maintaining the current state of de facto independence while engaging in robust economic exchanges with the mainland.

China’s ruling Communist Party says Taiwan must come under its control, and has in recent months increased pressure on the island, including flying warplanes near Taiwan. The increasing activity and vast improvements in China’s military capabilities have raised concern in the US, which is bound by its own laws to ensure Taiwan is capable of defending itself and to regard all threats to the island’s security as matters of “grave concern.”

Taiwan, which had weathered the pandemic virtually unscathed until the recent outbreak, is now facing its most serious flare-up with more than 10,000 new cases since late April.

President Tsai Ing-wen, meeting with the senators, expressed gratitude to the Biden administration for including Taiwan in the first group to receive vaccines and said the doses will arrive at a critical time for the island.


No, Western Culture Is Not About “White Supremacy”

Chief among the Big Lies currently being promulgated by the American Left is that Western culture is inherently racist, a manifestation of White Supremacy. This is not only nonsense but pernicious, dangerous nonsense.

Before we go on, perhaps we should define “Western culture.” It is essentially the marriage of Judeo-Christian morality with classical (that is, Greek and Roman) intellectualism. It privileges reason over emotion and the individual over the state. Its central tenet is that, through their own efforts, a person can rise above their circumstances.

Western culture is not now nor has it ever been perfect. But it has given us a wealth of great ideas: that all men (and women) are created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with natural rights, that we can learn much (if not everything) about our world through careful observation and experimentation, and that we must love our neighbor as ourselves.

It has produced the technological advances that have made modern life so relatively carefree and comfortable--such that, in the West, our “poor” now live better (and longer) than the royalty of years past.

Western culture has also given us much beauty, in the form of art, music literature, and architecture, as well as an appreciation for the even greater beauties of nature. For those reasons, Western culture represents the best that humanity has yet produced.

Still, we are told that Western culture is racist because Western nations once practiced slavery. Yes, they did. But what that indictment ignores is that virtually every culture in the history of the world practiced slavery, including in Africa and North America long before Europeans showed up. For most of recorded human history, slavery was the status quo. One group of people conquered another, and those that weren’t killed were captured and enslaved.

It was Western culture, in Europe and North America, that eventually put an end to that abominable practice (although it still exists in some parts of the world). And the reason the West was motivated to do so was that slavery is ultimately incompatible with our core belief in the worth of the individual. It took us a few hundred years to get to that point, true, and many thousands perished in the effort. But we did finally get there—precisely because of our cultural heritage, not in spite of it.

Furthermore, contrary to the popular narrative, Western culture has never been tied exclusively to “whiteness.” Its roots can be traced back to North Africa and the great library at Alexandria, as well as to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It has also absorbed and incorporated, over the centuries, the best that other cultures have to offer, as is readily apparent in today’s music, literature, and fashion.

That is not, as some would have it, “cultural appropriation.” Rather, it is a tribute to those other cultures and the good they bring. It also reflects the open-mindedness and liberalism (in the best sense of the word) of the Western ethos, which naturally seeks truth and beauty wherever they can be found.

Finally, Western culture in its current incarnation is expressly not racist because it is not limited to any particular race. It’s not just for White people or those whose ancestors were European. In fact, it is not exclusive at all. Far from it. All are invited to participate. And many do, all around the world, flocking if they can to Western Europe, the United States, and Canada specifically because they wish to be part of our culture and enjoy the individual freedoms and opportunities it presents.

And when they cannot actually come here, they seek as much as possible to incorporate elements of our culture into theirs. Indeed, the power of Western culture to promote freedom and prosperity is such that totalitarian, collectivist regimes, like the one in Communist China, must squelch or remove by force all vestiges of Western-style democracy with its emphasis on the individual. Despots know, if they allow their subjects (who are, in fact, little more than slaves to the state) too many of the freedoms we Westerners enjoy every day, their hold on power will become increasingly tenuous. That is exactly what is going on in Hong Kong today.

Unfortunately, it is also what is going on in the United States and other Western nations, although to a lesser extent (for now). The would-be despots of the Left understand that, if they wish to control us—as they clearly do; witness COVID—they must wean us from such “antiquated” notions as individual liberty and personal responsibility.

Make no mistake: They wish to make us all slaves, or at least serfs, as F. A. Hayek predicted many years ago. And when I say “us,” I mean all of us—Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, you name it. That, to the Left, is the end game, what “equity” really means: We all become serfs together.

But their opening gambit is to destroy our faith in Western culture as a force for good and convince us that, if we enjoy the peace and prosperity Western culture has produced, we must be racist. We cannot allow ourselves to fall for it—nor can we allow our children and grandchildren to do so. For that will indeed mark the end of what Ronald Reagan rightly called “the last best hope of man on Earth.”




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