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时论广场》本末倒置的外交疫苗政策(方恩格 Ross Feingold) - 时论广场 - 言论

发表时间:2022-10-15 13:08   浏览量:

台湾迄今未能获得足量疫苗供国人施打,本来单纯是疫苗制造商与台湾政府之间的商业行为,现却被衍生诠释为台湾的外交问题。将原因归咎于台湾在国际间受到政治打压,这对于台湾想实时争取疫苗真的有帮助吗?

自从台湾疫情爆发,人人口中都在询问疫苗从哪来、在哪里?这几天有位住在台湾的美国朋友问我美国共和党海外部是否有在积极动作、帮忙联络美国向台湾提供疫苗。虽然我已从共和党卸职,但对于他的问题我有著很明确的回答:“这种做法并不可取,因为台湾的疫苗取得是台湾政府的责任,而非任何外国政党的责任。”

虽然台湾政府之前对新冠肺炎的因应措施普遍得到世界认可,但在台湾疫情爆发之后政府并未重视台湾内部政党、地方政府、或个人所提出的疫苗采购提案与建议,反倒将采购疫苗的重点托付于其他国家,似乎有点本末倒置。

另一个出现在台湾的特殊“疫苗外交”现象是自2020年3月起,由于旅行中断,许多外籍人士滞留在台,台湾政府释出善意,一次又一次提供他们在台延长签证并得以延长在台的停留时间。这些外籍人士原本只是暂时来台,有的却一待就待了一年多。他们无须缴税,亦未加入健保制度。许多民众或许并不知道,台湾政府于2021年4月曾短暂开放所有人接种阿斯利康(AstraZeneca)疫苗,连这些短期来台的外籍人士也可以自费施打。

在当时台湾疫情虽未爆发,但在疫苗数量有限的情况下,本应提供一线医务人员及其他重点族群优先施打,然而政府也同时大方开放了所有人(包括让短期来台的外籍人士)均可以自费施打疫苗。或许台湾政府基于人道主义立场或外交利益有其考量,让暂时停留台湾的外籍人士施打疫苗,难怪台北被外国人票选为全球最适合移居的城市。

今年5月26日,美国在台协会郦英杰处长(Brent Christensen )发出声明强调台湾的确诊者数相对少。6月2日,德国在台协会王子陶处长(Thomas Prinz) 也发表声明指出台湾欲从德国BioNTech购买疫苗属于商业行为,而这个商业契约签订与否取决于契约双方,德国政府无力介入。为什么这些外国驻台代表要异口同声暗示台湾政府别对他们帮忙争取疫苗抱持著太大的期望?

在5月28 日,美国向台湾发送首批15万剂莫德纳疫苗,美国在台协会立刻在脸书发布此消息,并在文末加上“Real Friends Real Progress” 标签。 许多台湾的政治人物也立刻热烈响应,在社群媒体上大发感谢文,高声呼喊“真朋友、真进展”口号。

这样的群体兴奋感我们再熟悉不过,正如不久中国禁止了台湾菠萝进口的当下,大家群起吃菠萝拍照打卡的风潮,台湾社交媒体上的兴奋度到底是否与台湾的菠萝农们的收益成正比?而在社交媒体上狂热感谢他国捐赠疫苗,究竟对于台湾获得疫苗有何实质帮助,也令人质疑。

事实上,我认为值得关注的看点在于2020年3月18日,美国在台协会和台湾外交部发表了一份联合声明中提到,美台双方会对于疫苗的研发与制造加紧合作,这个倡议不知后续发展得如何?至今似乎乏人问津。

近日台湾收到了日本捐赠的第一批AZ疫苗,虽然此类疫苗尚未在日本境内施打,但对台湾而言却如同缺水获得了一场及时雨一般。疫苗抵达当天,全台欢欣鼓舞,强力表达对于日本政府的感谢。

在这一片台日友好的温馨场面之中,却突兀地出现了一则新闻,吸引了我的注意:台南市长黄伟哲晚间透过脸书宣布,“在台南日本人优先施打疫苗”。日本政府表示,这批疫苗捐赠是为了报答台湾在日本311大地震时对日本施与慷慨的赈灾援助。那麽以台南市长的逻辑,在当时的赈灾过程之中,日本地方政府是否也应该宣布,在日本的台湾人应当优先获得来自台湾的援助?

有鉴于美国和德国驻台代表所发出之声明,台湾政府应该厘清我们对于他国捐赠疫苗的意义与期望。会错意或过度解读,都对台湾的外交立场没有任何帮助。

尽管最近日本政府似乎频频对台湾释出善意,像是将原名为“公益财团法人交流协会”的日本驻台机构更名为“公益财团法人日本台湾交流协会”、双方政府官员在社交平台上友好互动,但日本政府实际上并未延续许多与台湾在马政府时代签下的双边合作协议细项,截至目前,日本亦未表明将帮助台湾加入跨太平洋伙伴全面进步协定(CPTPP)的签署,更未与台湾一同公开强化任何军事或区域安全之合作。

此外,台湾外交部在感谢日本的声明中强调了“民主国家之间互助”这个重点,这既不符合日本向非民主国家(如越南)捐赠疫苗的计划,也与日本向全球疫苗平台COVAX大笔捐款确保许多非民主国家获得疫苗的事实相违背。事实上,中华民国仅存的几个邦交国之中有一些并非民主国家。

台湾政府带头呼喊的“Health for All─Taiwan Can Help”让台湾加入世界卫生组织的口号相信大家仍耳熟能详,难道“Health for all”的all还有条件限定?必须是民主国家政体才能共享疫苗?

台湾政府未能及时获得足够数量疫苗的原因,可以简单归结为台湾政府长久以来的官僚结构导致重大决策的运行低效,这与台湾被世界卫生组织排除在外或台湾缺乏邦交国等因素并无关连。若将获得疫苗视为外交的筹码,台湾民众的疫苗接种恐怕会遥遥无期。

(作者为前美国共和党亚太区主席)

英文全文:

Foreign Policy ≠ Vaccine Policy

By Ross Darrell Feingold

Former Asia Chairman, Republicans Abroad

One outcome from Taiwan’s failure to date to timely acquire a sufficient quantity of vaccines is that what in reality should be a commercial relationship between the manufacturers and Taiwan’s government, has unnecessarily become a foreign policy matter that certain Taiwan politicians and other individuals in Taiwan are seeking to exploit. Is this really necessary, and is it helpful for Taiwan’s efforts to acquire vaccines?

An American citizen who lives in Taiwan recently contacted me to ask if the Republicans Overseas organization is doing a letter writing campaign to encourage the United States to provide vaccines to Taiwan. Although I am not currently involved in the Republicans Overseas organization, I had a simple reply for this American: I would not support that, and it is the Taiwan government that is responsible for vaccines, not foreign political parties. It would be a disappointment if the Taiwan government, which was previously universally recognized for its response to COVID-19, needed to outsource part of its own efforts to acquire vaccines to foreign political parties, even if Taiwan’s other domestic political parties or local government leaders have attempted to engage in vaccine acquisition diplomacy.

Another peculiar type of vaccine diplomacy in Taiwan was that the Taiwan government allowed foreigners who have remained in Taiwan from when travel disruption began in March 2020 to receive vaccines during the brief period that began in April when people could pay out-of-pocket for the AstraZeneca vaccines that were available in Taiwan at the time. Although many in Taiwan are unaware, there is a population of foreigners for whom the government has repeatedly extended their right to remain in Taiwan. These foreigners who do not pay taxes or participate in the National Health Insurance system. However, even though the limited number of vaccines available at the time should have been provided to first line medical workers and other priority persons, these foreigners could also pay for a vaccine. What humanitarian or diplomatic benefit Taiwan could gain from this is unknown, and probably limited.

On May 26, American Institute in Taiwan Taipei Office Director Brent Christensen (郦英杰) issued a statement in which he emphasized Taiwan’s relatively small amount of COVID-19 cases. Similarly, on June 2, 2021 the Director General of German Institute Taipei Thomas Prinz (王子陶) issued a statement which emphasized that Taiwan’s effort to purchase vaccines from BioNTech is a matter outside the control of the German government. It is no surprise that these foreign country representatives sought to manage Taiwan’s expectations for the amount of vaccines that their governments could provide Taiwan. In fact, subsequently, on May 28 the United States announced 150,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine would be sent to Taiwan, which AIT announced with a Facebook message that included the RealFriendsRealProgress hashtag. This was quickly followed by Taiwan politicians repeating RealFreindsRealProgress on their own Facebook pages. The excitement over this small amount of vaccines is similar to the over reaction in Taiwan to the foreign governments or foreign politicians who published social media messages with Taiwan pineapples after China banned imports of Taiwan pineapples earlier this year. Just as one time photos of foreigners eating pineapples (and the excited response on social media in Taiwan) does not result in substantive sales opportunities for Taiwan pineapple growers, hashtags or letter writing campaigns will not help Taiwan address its failures to acquire vaccines.

In fact, on March 18, 2020, the American Institute in Taiwan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a joint statement that both sides will seek to share best practices and cooperate on a range of activities under a partnership that included research and production of vaccines. People in Taiwan should ask what became of this initiative.

As for Japan’ recent donation of AstraZeneca vaccine doses that Japan purchased but has not used for its own citizens, certainly an expression of thank you from the government and people of Taiwan is appropriate. However, Tainan City Mayor Huang Wei-che’s (黄伟哲) announcement that Japanese nationals in Tainan City would receive priority to be vaccinated was a surprise. According to the Japanese government, the donation is to thank Taiwan for aid provided in response to the 2011 T?hoku earthquake and tsunami (东北地方太平洋冲地震). There is no record of Japanese local governments announcing at the time that Taiwan nationals in Japan would receive first priority for the aid provided by Taiwan. Similar to the expectations management by the United States and Germany, we should manage our expectations for the significance of the Japan vaccine donation. Although in recent years Japan has made gestures such as the change in the name of Japan’s representative office in Taipei or the exchange of social media messages with Taiwan’s leadership following disasters in each country, Japan has yet to enter into substantive agreements with Taiwan on the range of issues as which occurred during Ma Ying-jeou’s presidency, and as of now, Japan has yet to indicate it will help Taiwan enter the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (跨太平洋伙伴全面进步协定) or engage in a more substantive and public security relationship.

However, in thanking Japan, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized this as democracies assisting each other. This is inconsistent with Japan’s plans to donate vaccines to non-democratic countries such as Vietnam, or Japan’s large donation to a large amount of money to COVAX which will ensure many non-democratic countries receive vaccines, or the reality that several of the non-democratic countries which formally recognize the Republic of China are also in desperate need of vaccines. If the Taiwan government’s claim that “The goal “Health for All” can be achieved earlier only by allowing Taiwan to join the WHO” and the continued use by the Taiwan government of the slogan “Health for All – Taiwan Can Help” are to believed, then Taiwan should not encourage the sharing of vaccines only among democracies.

The Taiwan government’s failure to timely acquire a sufficient quantity of vaccines will ultimately prove to be from the bureaucratic inefficiency of Taiwan’s government and not due to Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Organization, the limited donations of vaccines by Germany, Japan, the United States or any other issue that arises from Taiwan’s lack of formal diplomatic relations with the world’s major countries. Attempting to make vaccine acquisition a foreign policy victory is unlikely to resolve the reasons why Taiwan lags far behind other countries in vaccinating its population.

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