Taiwan Life in Brief – September 2021

President Tsai received her first dose of the domestically developed Medigen vaccine in August. Her inoculation was livestreamed on social media. Photo: Martti Chen

Local English Content Platform Launched

The launch party for TaiwanPlus, a new government-funded English-language streaming platform, was held on August 30. The event was attended by Vice President Lai Ching-te, Legislative Speaker You Si-kun, and Minister of Culture Lee Yung-te. In a video address, President Tsai remarked that TaiwanPlus would be “a window through which the world will be able to discover Taiwan.”

The platform, which was initiated by the Ministry of Culture and whose operations will be overseen by Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA), will feature a range of free content in English, including news, lifestyle and culture, and environmental issues, among other programming. In order to better target an English-speaking audience, it is staffed by media professionals from the U.S., the UK, and Australia, who will work collaboratively with local talent to report on the latest news about Taiwan and its international affairs.

In late July, CNA named Joanne Tsai, a 25-year veteran of international news media, as CEO of TaiwanPlus. Tsai was a member of the AmCham Taiwan Board of Governors and co-chair of the Telecom & Media Committee when she served as Managing Director for Taiwan & China for the FOX Networks Group.
Among the staff joining the new platform is Andrew Ryan, former co-host of Radio Taiwan International’s weekly news videocast Taiwan Insider, who will serve as TaiwanPlus’ Deputy Director of News.

Chu, Chiang Enter KMT Chair Race

Incumbent KMT chairperson Johnny Chiang officially registered as a candidate at the party’s headquarters on August 17. He will run against former chairperson Eric Chu, Sun Yat-sen School CEO Chang Ya-chung, and former Changhua County magistrate Cho Po-yuan. Photo: Marti Chen

Former New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu announced in a Facebook post on August 2 that he would run in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chair election, which will take place on September 25. Chu previously served as KMT chair in 2015-2016 but declined to run in the 2020 by-elections after former chairperson Wu Den-yih stepped down to accept responsibility for party’s defeat in the presidential and legislative elections. At that time, Chu said that he wished to hand party leadership over to the younger generation.

Following Chu’s announcement, incumbent chairperson Johnny Chiang on August 17 formally registered as a candidate in the upcoming race. Chiang, whose term began shortly after the 2020 national elections and who was widely viewed as the opposition party’s attempt to win back the support of younger Taiwanese, said he will work toward successful votes on the KMT-led referendums, as well as victories in the mayoral and county magistrate elections next year.

Other candidates in the four-way race for KMT chair include Chang Ya-chung, president of the Sun Yat-sen School, a party-affiliated NGO, and Cho Po-yuan, a former Changhua County magistrate.

Medigen Rollout Begins In Taiwan

Taiwan hospitals and vaccination centers on August 23 began administering the first dose of Taiwan’s homegrown Medigen vaccine to those who had opted to receive it via the island’s online vaccine registration system. At the time of publication, around 650,000 people have received their first shot, with appointments for the second dose to be given starting September 27.

Both President Tsai and Vice President Lai received their first dose of the Medigen vaccine as well. Their inoculations were livestreamed on their respective social media pages. The evening after she received her shot, Tsai noted that she had not experienced any pain or side effects from the vaccine.

Meanwhile, the other domestic COVID-19 vaccine, developed by United Biomedical Inc. (UBI) Asia, was denied emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration last month. Central Epidemic Command Center head Chen Shih-chung told reporters that the majority of a panel of experts convened to review the trial data voted not to grant the EUA for the company’s UB-612 vaccine on the grounds that it had failed to meet Taiwan’s antibody standards during its Phase II clinical trials.