TAIPEI — (Taiwan News) — As the Taiwanese government cautiously reopens its economy after more than two months of restrictions aimed at tackling the COVID-19 outbreak, foreign workers, and especially foreign teachers, have been left out without explanation and with little in the way of aid from the country that once opened its arms to them.
Since the Level 3 restrictions were introduced in May, the livelihoods of many Taiwanese working in affected industries have been on the cusp of collapse, with entertainment venues closed and dining-in banned. Also among the struggling businesses are cram schools, where Taiwanese elementary and secondary students and even toddlers spend much of their time.
These educational businesses have seen massive layoffs, and foreign nationals have been some of the biggest victims.
Subsidies for who?
"The current policy disproportionally affects the foreign community, and hiring foreigners has been at a disadvantage during the pandemic," said Daisy, who has been living in Taiwan for 13 years and is a manager at a private English school in Taipei. She used a pseudonym out of concern for government reprisal.
The policy she mentioned is the government's effort to help people endure the financial impact of the COVID-19 restrictions. According to the requirements, registered cram schools and afterschool childcare centers that were forced to shut down are qualified for a one-time subsidy based on the number of employees and whether they receive the minimum wage.
Each employee is eligible to receive up to NT$40,000 (US$1,430).
However, the policy specifically excludes foreign employees without an Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC), which typically can be obtained after a foreigner has lived in the country legally and continuously for five years. At Daisy's school, most of the employees are foreigners, including 20 foreign teachers.
"The foreign staff is paid higher because of their higher cost of living in Taiwan, which means they also pay more in taxes," said Daisy. "And they also pay labor insurance, so it doesn't make any sense why they would be disqualified [from] getting the help from the government."
The Ministry of Education's answer
When asked why foreigners without an APRC are not entitled to the relief package, the Ministry of Education (MOE) told Taiwan News that the decision follows the standard of other government branches while taking into account the limited budget.
What also frustrates Daisy is the unhelpful attitude of government officials and what seems to her as a lack of progress toward returning to normal classes. Although her school is continuing classes online, it has seen enrollment plummet from 575 students pre-restrictions, including those enrolled in a summer camp, to the current 261.
Many parents did not believe an online summer camp made sense and asked for a full refund by July.
After July 13, kindergartens and cram schools remained barred from operating while the central government allowed movie theaters, gyms, and dine-in restaurants to reopen with strict coronavirus prevention guidelines in place. During a press conference, the head of the MOE's Department of Lifelong Education, Huang Yueh-li (黃月麗), explained that the close contact teachers have with students at cram schools is the main reason for the extended ban.
A reeling industry
After more than two months of being closed, many cram school owners have begun selling their businesses. The number of schools that are for sale in the country increased almost twofold in the past month, said Hsieh Chih-fang (謝智芳), the director of the After School Educational Association.
According to Hsieh, only around 2,000 of the nation's 12,000 cram schools that applied for the subsidies have received the money so far, as government officials have been overwhelmed by the influx of applications. Compared to workers in other industries, who mainly relied on their profiles in the labor insurance system when applying for the stipends, cram school owners must first make sure all their employees have been registered in the centralized management system, which could further slow down the application process.
He also disagreed with the decision to leave out full-time foreign employees.
The real price of teaching in Taiwan
What many do not realize is the time and effort some foreigners have put in to teach in Taiwan, Daisy emphasized. "I know sometimes cram schools have bad reps in Taiwan, but our school works very hard to make sure everything is done by the book, and all our teachers really have educational backgrounds."
Many of these went through months of paperwork to acquire working visas from abroad before their arrival, but owing to the current restrictions, they cannot switch jobs or even get proper residence certificates from the immigration agency, which, in Daisy's eyes, makes Taiwan much less foreigner-friendly than it portrays itself.
Saying she empathizes with the anxiety and frustration of the kids, who wonder when they can go back to school to see their friends and teachers, Daisy hopes the government will soon have concrete plans for the reopening of cram schools before they all go out of business, including the vaccination of teachers. Her school still pays its employees full salaries and has not laid off anyone since May.
On July 7, Taipei began inoculating teachers who work at public kindergartens and daycare centers to prepare for their July 19 reopening. However, no such arrangement has been made for cram schools and their struggling teachers
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Chinese military plane entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Thursday afternoon (July 22), marking the 11th intrusion this month.
A People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Shaanxi Y-8 anti-submarine warfare plane was tracked in the southwestern corner of the ADIZ, according to the Ministry of National Defense (MND). In response, Taiwan sent aircraft, issued radio warnings, and deployed air defense missile systems to track the PLAAF plane.
Chinese planes have been spotted in Taiwan’s identification zone on July 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 21, and 22. All the planes so far this month have been slower-flying turboprops and included anti-submarine warfare, electronic warfare, and reconnaissance variants.
Since September of last year, Beijing has stepped up its gray zone tactics by routinely sending aircraft into Taiwan’s ADIZ, with most occurrences taking place in the southwest corner of it.
An ADIZ is an area that extends beyond a country’s air space where air traffic controllers ask incoming aircraft to identify themselves. Gray zone tactics are defined “as an effort or series of efforts beyond steady-state deterrence and assurance that attempts to achieve one’s security objectives without resort to direct and sizable use of force.”
According to MND data, Chinese aircraft were tracked in the ADIZ 10 times in June, 18 times in May, 22 times in April, 18 times in March, 17 times in February, and 27 times in January. Last year, they were observed 19 times in December, 22 times in November, and 22 times in October.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Visitors returning to Kaohsiung's Shoushan (Monkey Mountain) as Taiwan's COVID-19 situation improves are being asked to socially distance not only from each other but also from the macaques that inhabit the area, as these may carry diseases such as herpes B virus, reports said Thursday (July 22).
One concern is that the animals might pass on herpes B virus, also known as Monkey B virus, which can be deadly to humans in the rare event it is passed on to them.
A 53-year-old veterinarian recently died of the disease in China, CNA reported. After the man performed autopsies on two dead monkeys in March, he developed a fever and suffered from frequent vomiting before passing away in May.
Visitors to areas such as the Shoushan National Nature Park should avoid contact with wild animals, not draw their attention or bring food to offer to them, said the country's national nature park management authority. Research conducted in 2015 and 2016 showed that the macaque monkeys in the area might carry herpes B virus and other diseases, according to park management.
The authorities warn hikers at Shoushan should be aware of the risks posed by wildlife and refrain from approaching the primates, feeding them, or challenging them.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Thursday (July 22) reported 30 new local COVID-19 cases, ending Taiwan's streak of five consecutive days with fewer than 20 local infections.
Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced 33 new coronavirus cases that afternoon, including 30 local and three imported infections. He also announced four deaths, bringing the country's COVID death toll to 782.
The latest local cases included 15 males and 15 females between the ages of five and 70, with the dates of symptom onset and testing ranging from July 17-21. As for the distribution of these cases, there were 11 each in New Taipei City and Taipei City, seven in Taoyuan City, and one in Hsinchu City.
Epidemiological investigations determined that of these cases, 24 are from known sources, five are from unknown sources, and one is under investigation. Related investigations are ongoing to clarify the source of the infections.
Chen said that of the four deaths reported Thursday, two were men and two were women between the ages of 60 and 70. The dates of symptom onset and testing ranged from June 1 to June 27. They were diagnosed between June 4 and June 29 and died between July 19 and July 21.
Chen pointed out that among the 14,255 cases announced between May 11 and July 20, 12,456, or 87.4%, have been released from quarantine.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has completed the procurement of 36 million additional doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which are slated to be delivered in shipments between the fourth quarter of this year and 2023.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) made the announcement at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday (July 22). The deal, which includes the next-generation coronavirus vaccine from the American pharmaceutical, was finalized on Wednesday, reported CNA.
Taiwan reached a rate of 23.5% having had their first jab on Wednesday, nearing the 25% objective set for the end of July, said Su. According to the COVID-19 Dashboard, 5.67 million doses had been given as of July 20, with 154,493 people fully vaccinated.
Over 9.8 million people have registered for a jab via the country’s COVID vaccine reservation system. As of Wednesday, a total of 8.93 million doses from the country's 44.8 million vaccine orders have arrived in Taiwan, including those manufactured by AstraZeneca and Moderna.
TSMC, Foxconn’s YongLin Foundation, and the Tzu Chi Foundation have inked deals with Germany's BioNTech, which will see each organization donating 5 million doses to the government of Taiwan. No timetables have been given as to when the BNT vaccines will arrive.
Reuters reported in March that Moderna has begun the development of a new COVID vaccine that can be stored and shipped in refrigerators for easier distribution. Named mRNA-1283, the vaccine candidate also has the potential to become a booster shot.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Tuesday (July 20) reported 18 new local COVID-19 cases, marking the fourth day in a row with fewer than 20 local infections.
Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) that afternoon announced 24 new coronavirus cases, including 18 local cases and six imported infections. He also announced four deaths, bringing the country's COVID death toll to 773.
The latest local cases include 13 males and five females between the ages of 20 and 80, with the dates of symptom onset and testing ranging from July 12-19. As for the distribution of these cases, seven were in Taipei City, six were in New Taipei City, three were in Keelung City, and two were in Taoyuan City.
Epidemiological investigations determined that of these cases, 13 are from known sources and five are from unknown sources. Related investigations are ongoing.
Chen said that of the four deaths reported on Tuesday, four were women and one was a man, with the ages ranging between 60 and 70. The dates of symptom onset and testing ranged from May 17 to July 16.
The dates of diagnosis ranged between May 22 and July 19, while the dates of death ranged from July 16-19.
Chen pointed out that among the 14,210 cases announced between May 11 and July 18, 12,348, or 86.9%, have been released from quarantine.
According to Chen, the six imported cases reported on Tuesday included four men and two women between the ages of 10 and 40. They entered Taiwan from the U.S. (three cases), Indonesia (two cases), and Myanmar (one case) between July 5 and July 19.
COVID case statistics
Since the outbreak began, Taiwan has carried out 1,801,538 COVID-19 tests, with 1,784,759 coming back negative. Out of the 15,453 confirmed cases, 1,241 were imported, 14,159 were local, 36 came from the Navy's "Goodwill Fleet," two were from a cargo pilot cluster, and one was an unresolved case.
A total of 106 people have been removed as confirmed cases, while 14 cases are still under investigation. Up until now, 773 individuals have succumbed to the disease.
Of the 765 deaths from local infections, 384 were in New Taipei; 292 in Taipei; 27 in Keelung; 23 in Taoyuan; 14 in Changhua County; 10 in Hsinchu County; four in Taichung; three in Miaoli; two each in Yilan and Hualien counties; and one each in Taitung, Yunlin, and Nantou counties and Kaohsiung City. The eight other deaths were imported cases.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taipei City Government on Tuesday (July 20) announced that a confirmed COVID-19 case recently shopped at Carrefour and worked out in World Gym while potentially infectious.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Taipei's Department of Health announced that case No. 15,493 was diagnosed with COVID-19 on July 17. It then released a list of locations in Taipei where the person recently visited.
The health department stated that based on a preliminary investigation, case No. 15,493 is believed to have contracted the virus from a friend who visited from Hsinchu and also was later confirmed to have the disease. Prior to being diagnosed, case No. 15,493 went to the Carrefour on Tong'an Street in Taipei's Zhongzheng District from 9:35 a.m. to 9:55 a.m. on July 7.
After being informed of the infection, the Carrefour branch on July 20 disinfected the store and told employees to begin self-health monitoring. On July 13, the first day that World Gym reopened, the confirmed case went to the fitness chain's branch at Changchun Road in Taipei's Zhongshan District from 10:25 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
After being notified of the infection, the World Gym branch on July 19 carried out disinfection of the facility. The gym will be closed to the public for three days, from July 20 to July 22.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR) analyst Shu Hsiao-huang (舒孝煌) has described Taiwan’s new Tuo Chiang-class corvette as "mobile, stealthy, fast, and powerful."
The military analyst noted that the latest Tuo Chiang-class corvette, the Ta Chiang, is armed with Sea Sword II medium-range missiles, which greatly boost its air defense capabilities and survivability. He added that the Ta Chiang’s small hull and stealth technology give it a low radar cross-section, making it difficult for Chinese anti-ship missiles to detect it as a target, reporter reported.
Huang said the ship can therefore perform grey zone patrols during peacetime without difficulty. However, considering China’s advanced electronic warfare capabilities, he said the Navy should be cautious about how it deploys the corvette during wartime.
The Tuo-Chiang-class has also been modified for maritime patrol missions under the Taiwan Coast Guard. Known as the Anping-class patrol vessel, the first ship was launched in December of last year. The Coast Guard has said these ships can be fitted with missile launchers during wartime.
Huang said that if more Tuo Chiang and Anping-class ships are built in the future, the Coast Guard and Navy can pool the vessels together during a conflict to increase the effectiveness of maritime assault operations.
Military officials on Tuesday (July 20) said that the Navy's handover ceremony for the Ta Chiang will take place at Suao Port on July 27, per reporter.
The Ta Chiang is armed with Hsiung Feng II and III anti-ship missiles, one 76 mm cannon, one Phalanx closed-in weapons system, and the Sea Sword II air defense system, which was developed by the National Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR) on Friday (July 16) published a paper recommending that Taiwan consider Western-developed drone defense systems, as drones have become an increasingly prevalent technology in modern warfare.
The report, written by INDSR assistant researcher Hsu Chih-hsiang (許智翔) and titled “The development of remotely-controlled weapons stations (RWS) to be integrated into anti-drone capabilities is worthy of Taiwan’s attention,” called on Taiwan to note the different approaches Western countries have taken to bolster their drone defense capabilities.
Hsu said that drone technology is growing exponentially and has become a major threat on the battlefield. The researcher added that because China is already leading the world in commercial drones, Taiwan would certainly face the threat of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) deployed by its neighbor during a military conflict.
Hsu listed prominent drone defense solutions such as France’s M151 Protector RWS and Milad mobile anti-drone system, Germany’s installation of a Heckler & Koch automatic grenade launcher on a GTK Boxer armored fighting vehicle combined with a Spexer 2000 3D radar, and Russia’s addition of an Arbalet-DM RWS to a GAZ Tigr infantry mobility vehicle.
The researcher said that soft kill systems, including drone jamming guns, are useful during both peace and wartime, especially in densely populated areas. He added that Taiwan should consider integrating RWS into its drone defense capabilities as it reviews its UAV countermeasure needs.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) last Friday (July 16) received preliminary approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a proposed expansion of its Hsinchu Science Park facility.
TSMC plans to develop an 89.94-hectare plot in Hsinchu’s Baoshan Township that will include a next-generation 2 nm chip fab. If approved, the expansion project is expected to create around 2,500 jobs, according to CNA.
A special EPA committee gave a preliminary green light to the expansion but requested that the science park submit revised plans to control air pollution, manage waste, and increase the use of reclaimed water before Sept. 30. The agency said that once these issues are addressed, the expansion plan will be sent to the EPA’s Environmental Impact Assessment Review Committee for a final review.
TSMC is planning to carry out its Hsinchu expansion in two stages, with the first phase involving an R&D center that will focus on developing its 3 nm and 2 nm processes. The company has previously said it plans to hire around 8,000 workers for the center, which is expected to begin operations later this year.
The second phase of development includes TSMC’s 2 nm facility. The world’s largest contract chipmaker has said that it is progressing on its 2 nm technology, but it has yet to release a timetable for development.
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