On Sunday afternoon, the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church reported a bloody shooting causing one death and five injuries. A 52-year-old Taiwanese doctor who stood up to block the gunman was shot to death. The shooter was David Chou, an immigrant who was born in Taiwan. Police called the shooting a politically motivated hate crime, and the suspect could face death penalty.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised the alert level of Taiwan's pandemic from Level 2 in early May to the highest Level 3 and advised the American public to avoid traveling to Taiwan. South Korea, Japan, Thailand, and many European countries are also in the third tier.
A dark horse candidate for Taoyuan mayor has emerged from the opposition Kuomintang (KMT). Chairman Eric Chu named former Premier Simon Chang as mayoral candidate. The nomination process faced backlash by party supporters due to inadequate communication and coordination with local figures and other potential contenders.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Taiwan remains severe. On May 19, Taiwan added 90,331 domestic cases and 59 deaths, both hitting new highs for the year. The cumulative number of local cases this year has also exceeded 1 million, reaching 1,044,470. For the first time, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) released statistics that the death rate of those who had not been vaccinated was six times that of people who received three doses of vaccine.
In order to prevent further spread of COVID-19, Taipei took the lead in announcing online instruction for high schools and below from May 23 to May 27. Ten (10) localities including Yilan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung followed suit.
The Legislative Yuan passed in third reading amendments to certain provisions of the National Security Act, stipulating that no one shall steal Taiwan's core technologies for foreign countries, mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and foreign hostile forces. Violators may be punished with a maximum of 12 years in prison in addition to a fine of NT$5 million (about $168,150) to NT$100 million (about US$3.3 million). Legislator Lee De-wei of the KMT reminded national security and intelligence agencies not to arbitrarily place criminal charges and should pay attention to protection of human rights.
While coronavirus (COVID-19) infections continue to surge in Taiwan, May 20 marked President Tsai Ing-wen’s sixth anniversary in office. The Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation released its latest poll showing Tsai’s job approval rating stands at 46.2 percent, down 3.7 percent from last month. The overall job approval rating after serving six years stands at 61.55 percent. As for her second-term performance on six major government measures, the development of domestic COVID-19 vaccines ranked the highest on the job disapproval rating. Whereas the job approval rating for Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center, stands at 59.53 percent, falling below 60 percent for the first time since two and a half years ago.
President Joe Biden of the United States held a leaders summit in Seoul with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul. They reaffirmed that maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait as critical to the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.
The 75th World Health Assembly was held in Geneva, Switzerland, but Taiwan did not receive an invitation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed regret, and Taiwan sent Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Li Li-fen to lead a WHO action team to express Taiwan's desire and determination to participate. Taiwan will also hold meetings with the United States, Japan, and other countries outside the WHA.