The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China (Taiwan) sincerely thanks Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and like-minded countries for voicing strong support at the virtual 73rd World Health Assembly May 18 and 19 for Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization. This support was particularly appreciated considering that the agenda for this year’s WHA had been significantly shortened and each country was only given two minutes to deliver remarks.
Due to the WHA’s tight agenda, and for the benefit of all, Taiwan accepted the suggestion from diplomatic allies and like-minded nations that a proposal introduced by diplomatic allies concerning Taiwan’s WHA participation be discussed later this year when the WHA session resumes under normal conditions. This decision has won recognition and praise from many countries, and again illustrates Taiwan’s professional, pragmatic, and constructive approach in promoting its WHO bid. Indeed, MOFA has been heartened by the fact that voices in support of Taiwan have grown even louder as a result.
During the WHA, 14 diplomatic allies firmly backed Taiwan’s participation in WHO and demanded that WHO invite Taiwan to attend the WHA as an Observer. In addition, like-minded countries such as the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Czech Republic endorsed Taiwan’s campaign by directly expressing support for Taiwan or, echoing Taiwan’s arguments, by emphasizing inclusiveness and stressing the need for global epidemic prevention efforts to include all parties and have no gaps.
In his remarks at the WHA, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar II pointed out that it is “critical that Taiwan participate as an Observer at the WHA, to bring the helpful perspective regarding their effective and exemplary response” and that “the health of 23 million Taiwanese people should never be sacrificed to send a political message.” Japan for the first time mentioned and directly voiced support for Taiwan. Japanese Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Katsunobu Kato called on WHO to give consideration to regions that have responded successfully to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as Taiwan. Meanwhile, both in oral and written statements, the Sovereign Order of Malta underlined “the necessity for the broadest possible international cooperation between all stakeholders,” and highlighted a number of countries, including Taiwan, that have helped it fight COVID-19, demonstrating international solidarity and support when it was most needed.
Faced with such powerful calls for justice, China, when exercising its right of reply, once again rehashed its “one China principle” and falsely claimed that Taiwan had received related information and been allowed to participate in essential technical activities through cross-strait and WHO arrangements, in an attempt to mislead international audiences. Margaret Bond, Director of Economic and Development Affairs at the US Department of State, quickly rebutted these claims, stating that as the WHO is charged with protecting and advancing global health, it is essential to include all public health authorities, especially those with firsthand experience in combating COVID-19. She urged WHO to “exercise leadership, independence, and inclusivity and fully involve Taiwan in the global COVID-19 response, including Taiwan’s participation as an Observer in the resumed 73rd WHA session later this year.”
Taiwan’s WHO campaign has received unprecedented support far beyond the WHA proceedings. So far, the administrations of more than 30 countries have expressed support in diverse ways. Many high-ranking officials from like-minded countries have publicly backed Taiwan, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters. This is of enormous significance. Furthermore, prominent political figures from 43 countries, including more than 600 members of the national parliaments of the United States, Canada, South American countries, and Mexico, as well as the European Parliament, have expressed strong support for Taiwan in myriad ways. Representative offices in Taiwan of like-minded countries such as the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and Canada have also bolstered Taiwan’s campaign through Facebook posts.
The number of favorable news reports on Taiwan’s WHO bid in the international press has also been much higher than in previous years, demonstrating that international public opinion attaches great importance to and supports Taiwan’s bid. Media outlets from over 60 countries have published more than 2,100 reports, commentaries, columns, and letters to the editor in support of Taiwan. They include the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, National Public Radio, Diplomat, and Breitbart News Network from the United States; the British Broadcasting Corporation, Financial Times, Guardian, and Daily Telegraph from the United Kingdom; the Deutsche Welle and Das Erste from Germany; Le Monde from France; the Neue Zürcher Zeitung from Switzerland; and the Australian from Australia. In addition, a short film entitled “Looking up Again” produced by MOFA has garnered over 12.45 million views. Foreign Minister Jaushieh Joseph Wu has been exclusively interviewed by 23 international media outlets, including Fox News, the Washington Post, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Euronews, Sky News, and the Mainichi Shimbun.
In line with its role as a responsible stakeholder in the international community, Taiwan’s actions speak for themselves—Taiwan can help, and Taiwan is helping. Having ensured that domestic demand was met, the Taiwan government took the initiative to provide epidemic prevention and containment supplies to more than 80 countries worldwide. It has also conducted 31 videoconferences with governments, think tanks, and hospitals from 35 countries and organizations, including the United States, Japan, the European Union, the Philippines, Turkey, and Russia, as well as the Central American Integration System (SICA), to share the successful Taiwan Model with the international community. Moreover, with MOFA assistance, the Ministry of Health and Welfare successfully held a virtual seminar on May 15 entitled “Review of COVID-19 Prevention and Control Strategies.” Nearly 50 public health officials from 14 like-minded countries and regional organizations took part in the event, including the United States, Japan, and Canada. Representatives from participating countries expressed recognition of Taiwan’s achievements in epidemic prevention and containment and thanked Taiwan for providing assistance.
The tremendous international support extended to Taiwan’s WHO bid this year fully demonstrates that its aspirations have been widely endorsed by the international community. Taiwan’s success in containing COVID-19 and generous support to other countries have further consolidated international awareness of the necessity and urgency of Taiwan’s inclusion in WHO.
MOFA reaffirms that it will continue to work with diplomatic allies and like-minded countries to gain Observer status at the resumed WHA session later this year. MOFA also calls on WHO to uphold standards of professionalism and neutrality, resist China’s political interference, and allow for Taiwan’s full and unhindered participation in all WHO meetings, mechanisms, and activities, so as to safeguard the health and wellbeing of all humanity. (E)