TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — Taiwanese residents whose family members are stranded in Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus, took to the streets for the first time to ask the government to push forward with evacuation plans.
“We just want to go home,” they chanted repeatedly on Friday.
Approximately 30 to 40 people, including elderly and children, gathered outside the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC, 陸委會) building in Taipei, demanding answers from the government as to why reunion with their beloved ones are still unforeseeable.
An elder woman, surnamed Tsai, teared up while saying that she hasn’t seen her son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren for a long time.
According to a list obtained by The China Post, there are at least 980 people, including a child with Haemophilia, a rare blood disorder, waiting to be airlifted out of the virus-ridden area.
Negotiations between Taiwan and China have deadlocked since the first batch of nationals arrived earlier this month, among which were several Chinese spouses and their relatives, and one man was later found to have contracted the COVID-19.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told reporters last Friday (Feb. 7) that the country is firm on two principles when discussing future evacuation plans with China: at-risk groups must be prioritized and thorough epidemic prevention measures must be executed. Should they not be met, the country will not agree to take in more evacuees.
An anti-Chinese sentiment is spreading fast and wide in Taiwan since the outbreak, as nationals make an effort to differentiate themselves with the East Asia giant globally.
Domestically, that adversity is widening the divide in society.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC, 中央流行疫情指揮中心) Chief Commander Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) slammed the door on underage children who are of Chinese nationality but have spent most of their lives in Taiwan with a Taiwanese parent and Chinese spouse.
Previously, MAC had proposed a plan to allow these kids to return, claiming “humanitarian considerations.”
Chen argued that the children of Chinese spouses were given the choice to pick a nationality.
“Since they didn’t choose to be Taiwanese in the first place, they must now assume the responsibility,” Chen said.