More than 900 Taiwanese stuck in China as evacuation negotiation deadlocked

Among those stranded is a child with a rare blood disorder who is in urgent need of medical supplies.

A China Eastern Airlines aircraft is seen in Taoyuan International Airport on Feb. 4, 2020. (CNA)
A China Eastern Airlines aircraft is seen in Taoyuan International Airport on Feb. 4, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — At least 900 Taiwanese residents, including children and people with urgent medical needs, are stranded in the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak because Taiwan and China cannot reach consensus on details of the evacuation.

Among them is a kid with Haemophilia, a rare blood disorder, who is in urgent need of medical supplies.

The child is listed as a priority to bring home, Straits Exchange Foundation (海基會) confirmed to The China Post on Friday.

The China Post obtained a list of 980 people who have signed up to get on the next flight out. At least 100 of them are Chinese nationals who hold Exit and Entry Permits (出入境許可證) to Taiwan.

In a phone interview with The China Post, a man, surnamed Liao, said that his wife and 10-year-old son are currently stuck in Xianning, a city in Hubei province southern to Wuhan, the origin of the epidemic.

Liu told The China Post that his wife and son had already traveled to a location where they were supposed to be transported to Wuhan for the second evacuation flight when Chinese officials told them that Taiwan had delayed the plan to bring them home.

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC, 陸委會) Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) attends a press conference on Feb. 5, 2020. (CNA)
Mainland Affairs Council (MAC, 陸委會) Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) attends a press conference on Feb. 5, 2020. (CNA)

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC, 陸委會) blamed its Chinese counterpart, the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO, 國台辦) for the holdup, condemning the latter of failing to keep its promise to prioritize at-risk groups and execute thoroughly epidemic prevention practices.

TAO accused Taiwan of “obstructing” the evacuation, saying that homebound flights were delayed because Taiwan said it has “limited capacity.”

Earlier this week, a flight operated by China Eastern Airline (東方航空) landed in Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport from Wuhan with 247 people on board.

What was initially applauded nationwide turned scandalous after nationals came to realize that some of the people they had welcomed back warmly were not Taiwanese nationals nor at-risk groups but Chinese spouses.

Local media reported that three people weren’t even on the original list, one of which later became the country’s eleventh patient who contracted the 2019-nCoV.

The press is scrambling to understand exactly who had the final say in the passenger list and how it was decided but so far in vain. Also unclear are details of the health inspections and epidemic prevention measures taken prior to and during the flight.

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