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Tsai unscrupulously exploiting epidemic

By Tang Yonghong | China Daily | Updated: 2020-02-14 07:03


While the Chinese mainland is making the utmost efforts to control the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the Taiwan administration of Tsai Ing-wen is trying to manipulate the epidemic as a means to formally join the World Health Organization, to get the island recognized as a "sovereign nation".

The trick has won some applause in the West, as the Taiwan authorities have made it seem like they are merely trying to safeguard the health of residents on the island.

When Tsai met with Giuseppe Izzo, chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan on Feb 3, she complained that the World Health Organization, which is the United Nations body responsible for health matters, is excluding it.

Tsai called on the United Nations and the WHO to safeguard the right to health of residents on the island. Particularly as the island was on the front line of the threat, there should not be an anti-epidemic gap in the international community, she said.

In response, three days later on Feb 6, the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office said that while the Chinese mainland is fighting against the virus, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party is unscrupulously taking advantage of the disaster to advance its political agenda in an attempt to expand international space for "Taiwan independence".

The DPP should be condemned for this trick. The truth is Taiwan is part of China, and not eligible for independent membership of the WHO.

WHO membership is only available to sovereign countries. According to the Constitution of the WHO and relevant UN resolutions, Taiwan as a part of China has no right to join the global organization as a separate entity. Thus, the exclusion is determined by international law rather than political factors as the Tsai administration claims.

Despite Taiwan not having independent access to WHO, the island has never been ruled out of the global anti-epidemic system. Tsai has simply lied in portraying Taiwan as a loophole in the global epidemic prevention and control system.

Is it necessary for Taiwan to join the WHO as an independent entity to safeguard the health of the island's residents? No. Is the island really excluded from the global anti-epidemic system? No.

In fact, there is no barrier on technical cooperation between Taiwan and the WHO.

The island's medical experts are free to participate in the WHO's technical exchanges under the proper banner in line with the one-China principle. According to the consensus reached by Beijing and the WHO, there is the liaison office set up in Taiwan based on the International Health Regulations, and the island can log in for immediate access to the latest information on the Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

WHO Executive Director Michael Ryan on Saturday said approximately 400 medical researchers would attend a forum this week, and medical experts from Taiwan would take part in the forum online.

Besides, since the novel coronavirus outbreak, the mainland has been providing the island with up-to-date information on epidemic control while arranging Taiwan epidemiologists to visit Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, which is the center of the outbreak. WHO experts also believe that Taiwan faces no obstacle in acquiring information on prevention work.

Since the international community has reached the consensus that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China, which is the basis for countries to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing, Taiwan's participation in international organizations or related activities must adhere to the one-China principle.

From 2009 to 2016, the former Taiwan administration, which acknowledged the 1992 Consensus that there is only one China, joined the World Health Assembly in the name of Chinese Taipei as an observer. It is only since the pro-independence DPP took office in 2016, and the Tsai administration has stubbornly refused to recognize the one-China principle, that the political foundation for the island to participate in activities of global organizations such as those of the WHO have been destroyed. It is that stance that has been the root cause of the island being unable to attend WHO events in recent years.

Even so, keeping in mind that the two sides across the Straits are one family, the Chinese mainland pays close attention to Taiwan compatriots' health. In accordance with the one-China principle, Beijing is offering unselfish help to the island and ensuring it obtains timely epidemic information.

However, in defiance of the mainland's kindness, which is being shown even while the mainland itself is suffering hugely from the serious epidemic, the ruling DPP shows no humanitarian spirit to mainland people, let alone blood brotherhood. Instead, the Taiwan authorities are seeking to take advantage of the epidemic and to exploit Taiwan residents' worries to play their political tricks, hyping the falsehood that Taiwan is a global anti-epidemic loophole.

The deliberate attempt to blur the lines between truth and lies in this way fully exposes the DPP's hostility to the mainland and its political plot of "one China and one Taiwan". No wonder it should be strongly condemned that Taiwan authorities were trying to exploit the epidemic to seek "Taiwan independence".

The author is the deputy director of the Taiwan Research Center at Xiamen University.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.


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