Taiwan Has Been Shut Out of Global Health Discussions. Its Participation Could Have Saved Lives

Date: March 18, 2020
By: Anders Rassmussen

Anders Fogh Rasmussen was the Prime Minister of Denmark from 2001 to 2009.

TAIPEI, TAIWAN – 2020/02/24: A view of An empty hallway at the Taipei American School.
After the decision of the Taiwanese ministry of education to close the schools until February 25, 2020 with the aim of preventing and fighting against the Coronavirus, the American school of Taipei, set up a system of digital learning to enable students to continue their education. TAS is one of the most prestigious private schools in Taiwan. (Photo by Walid Berrazeg/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Eight hundred and fifty thousand of Taiwan’s 23 million citizens reside in mainland China. Four hundred thousand work there. At its narrowest point, the Taiwan Strait between the island and the mainland is just 130 km. So, by all accounts, Taiwan should be in the midst a major coronavirus outbreak. Instead, as of March 18, it had seen just 100 cases compared to the more than 80,000 in China and the tens of thousands in several countries in Europe.

This has not happened by chance. Learning from the experiences of SARS in 2003, Taiwan was ready when the outbreak in Wuhan occurred. After the first notifications at the end of 2019, Taipei swiftly deployed a combination of measures to identify and contain the virus, including the use of big data to help contain potential cases.

The global health community could have learned from Taiwan’s experience. But in recent years its world-class health specialists have been shut out in the cold by Beijing’s geopolitical obsessions. In 2016, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-Wen came to power with a mandate to assert her people’s autonomy. China did not take kindly to this democratic challenge to its “One China” policy and bullied the world’s multilateral institutions into dealing only with Beijing. As a result, Taipei was denied access to a number of international fora which it was previously able to attend as an observer.    [FULL  STORY]

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