KAOHSIUNG (Taiwan News) — The definition of a friend is someone who likes to spend time with you — a sympathizer, ally, or supporter.
Friends often engage in acts of friendship, such as offering help in your hour of need, giving gifts, and going out of their way to make your life better.
Japan this week has shown Taiwan what true friendship really means.
The COVID-19 outbreak is undoubtedly Taiwan’s hour of need. Having successfully kept the pandemic at bay for more than a year since it emerged from China and spread rapidly across the world, the virus is now among us.
There is more than a hint of irony that the outbreak here has emerged just as the vaccination rollout sees some countries coming out of lockdown and returning to normal.
Japan has purchased 240 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and 120 million doses of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine too. For a country with a population of 126 million, that is more than enough to vaccinate everyone who wants it with plenty left over.
Last week, Sato Masahisa, who heads the Japanese ruling party's committee on Taiwan relations, confirmed that Japan would be sending surplus vaccines to Taiwan as soon as possible.
It then emerged that Japan’s contracts with suppliers would include a "no transfer" clause forbidding them from passing vaccines to other nations.
Rather than shrug their shoulders and give up, the Japanese have gone above and beyond to help their neighbors. THe country then entered into negotiations with AstraZeneca to alter the terms of the contract to make an exception.
Yesterday, 1.2 million AstraZeneca vaccines were flown in to help us. Japan didn’t have to go to all this effort on Taiwan’s behalf, but that’s what true friends do.
Contrast that with China’s response to Taiwan’s COVID-19 outbreak.
There was the gloating, as epitomized in the South China Morning Post editorial which bragged that “Taiwan has shown that border controls are not in themselves protection against the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Then there was the vaccine diplomacy. China has been going out of its way to try and stop Taiwan from procuring vaccines through any other means.
China’s intervention has stopped German vaccine maker BioNTech from supplying Taiwan directly, a development which is to the shame of both Pfizer and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and nothing more than rank politicization of a public health emergency.
China even mischaracterized Japan's donation to Taiwan, with the CCP’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs hilariously describing the generous act as “Taiwan's plan to ‘achieve independence through vaccines.’”
If China cared one iota about Taiwan, it would be shipping vaccines right now with no strings attached and welcoming any other vaccines Taiwan is able to obtain. Needless to say, this is not happening. To paraphrase an age-old saying, "With friends like China, who needs enemies!"
CCP dictator Xi Jinping laughably claimed this week that the Party is “striving for people’s happiness.”
This is certainly not the case in Taiwan, where Beijing would clearly rather see an epidemic that originated in China wreak havoc than give an inch of ideological ground.
You can’t help but think that the people of Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Hong Kong, the Chinese Christian and Muslim communities, the Falun Gong, and Chinese human rights lawyers and activists might feel the same way.
Fortunately for Taiwan, with friends like Japan, we have no need for China — now or in the future.