Date: October 17, 2020
By: Thomas J. Shattuck1
Significance: In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the full participation and cooperation of the entire international community is needed to understand best practices in limiting the spread of the virus. The pandemic has shown the importance of public and global health for a country’s national security. Taiwan’s exclusion from the May 2020 United Nations (UN) World Health Assembly—after dual campaigns by major international players in support of Taiwan’s observership bid and by China to keep Taiwan out—demonstrates the danger and limitations of excluding certain states based on their geopolitical situation. Taiwan is prevented from learning important information or receiving key data in a timely fashion. Also, it is more difficult for Taiwan to share its expertise in stopping the virus’ spread, something that Taipei has succeeded at doing despite its limitations. The spread of viruses endangers the entire world, and political maneuvering by Beijing has damaged the global response effort.
Option #1: Taipei works with like-mind/ed nations, particularly the United States, to develop a new, non-UN-membership-based international entity, initially focused on health issues with a plan for expansion into other areas.
Risk: There are/ two primary risks to such an endeavor. The first risk is the possibility that Beijing will pressure nations into not participating. By threatening various economic or political repercussions, leaders in China have been able to stop Taiwan from expanding its international participation. Such a campaign would likely occur in light of any effort by Taipei to work around current Beijing-imposed limitations. If such a new entity does not receive enough international buy-in, then Taipei risks getting embarrassed for failing to garner support. Second, Beijing would likely direct even greater backlash at Taipei for attempting to challenge it internationally. This could include more assertive military exercises in the Taiwan Strait. [FULL STORY]