Support Taiwan’s inclusion in the post-COVID-19 global public health network

Dr. Chen Shih-chung
Minister of Health and Welfare
Republic of China (Taiwan)

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there have more than 40 million cases and more than one million deaths around the world. The virus has had an enormous impact on global politics, employment, economics, trade and financial systems, and significantly impacted the global efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

Thanks to the united efforts of its entire people, Taiwan has responded to the threats posed by this pandemic through four principles: prudent action, rapid response, advance deployment, and openness and transparency. Adopting such strategies as the operation of specialized command systems, the implementation of meticulous border control measures, the production and distribution of adequate supplies of medical resources, the employment of home quarantine and isolation measures and related care services, the application of IT systems, the publishing of transparent and open information, and the execution of precise screening and testing, we have been fortunate enough to contain the virus. As of October 7, Taiwan had had just 523 confirmed cases and seven deaths; meanwhile, life and work have continued much as normal for the majority of people.

The global outbreak of COVID-19 has reminded the world that infectious diseases know no borders and do not discriminate along political, ethnic, religious, or cultural lines. Nations should work together to address the threat of emerging diseases. For this reason, once Taiwan had stabilized its containment of the virus and ensured that people had sufficient access to medical resources, we began to share our experience and exchange information on containing COVID-19 with global public health professionals and scholars through COVID-19-related forums, APEC’s High-Level Meeting on Health and the Economy, the Global Cooperation Training Framework, and other virtual bilateral meetings. As of June 2020, Taiwan had held nearly 80 online conferences, sharing the Taiwan Model with experts from governments, hospitals, universities, and think tanks in 32 countries.

Taiwan’s donations of medical equipment and antipandemic supplies to countries in need also continue. By June, we had donated 51 million surgical masks, 1.16 million N95 masks, 600,000 isolation gowns, and 35,000 forehead thermometers to more than 80 countries.

To ensure access to vaccines, Taiwan has joined the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX) co-led by GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; and the World Health Organization. And our government is actively assisting domestic manufacturers in hopes of accelerating the development and production of successful vaccines, bringing them to market as quickly as possible and putting an end to this pandemic.

To prepare for a possible next wave of the pandemic as well as the approaching flu season, Taiwan is maintaining its strategies of encouraging citizens to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, and strengthening border quarantine measures, community-based prevention, and medical preparedness. Furthermore, we are actively collaborating with domestic and international partners to obtain vaccines and develop optimal treatments and accurate diagnostic tools, jointly safeguarding global public health security.

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that Taiwan is an integral part of the global public health network and that Taiwan Model can help other countries combat the pandemic. To recover better, WHO needs Taiwan. We urge WHO and related parties to acknowledge Taiwan’s longstanding contributions to global public health, disease prevention, and the human right to health, and to firmly support Taiwan’s inclusion in WHO. Taiwan’s comprehensive participation in WHO meetings, mechanisms, and activities would allow us to work with the rest of the world in realizing the fundamental human right to health as stipulated in the WHO Constitution and the vision of leaving no one behind enshrined in the UN SDGs.

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Recover Better Together – Taiwan can help

Jaushieh Joseph Wu Minister of Foreign Affairs Republic of China (Taiwan)

In 2020, the world has been hit by an unprecedented public health crisis, with the effects of COVID-19 being felt across every aspect of people’s lives. This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Charter of the United Nations—the mission statement that stands at the very heart of the inclusive multilateralism the world needs so much at the present moment. Now more than ever, the global community must make a concerted effort to forge the better and more sustainable future called for by the UN and its Member States. Taiwan is ready, willing and able to be a part of these efforts.

With less than 500 confirmed cases and seven deaths, Taiwan has defied predictions and successfully contained COVID-19. We managed this without lockdowns; schools were only closed for two weeks in February. Baseball games also restarted in April. Initially, cardboard cutouts stood in for the crowds, but by mid-July games were back in full swing, attended by as many as 10,000 spectators.

This has all come in no small part due to Taiwan’s quick response measures, including the establishment of a Central Epidemic Command Center, the implementation of stringent border controls and quarantine procedures, and transparent information-sharing. We also took swift action to ensure an adequate stock of medical supplies for our world-class health care system.

And after making sure we had enough supplies to look after our own people, we started providing medical equipment and supplies to other countries in serious need. By the end of June, Taiwan had donated 51 million surgical masks, 1.16 million N95 masks, 600,000 isolation gowns, 35,000 forehead thermometers, and other medical materials to more than 80 countries, including the United States, Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, and European nations. We have also joined forces with like-minded democracies to explore the development of rapid test kits, medicines, and vaccines. Working together for the greater good is how the world will defeat COVID-19.

In the Declaration on the Commemoration of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the United Nations, governments and heads of state acknowledge that only by working together in solidarity can we end the pandemic and effectively tackle its consequences. They thus pledge to make the UN more inclusive and to leave no one behind as the world looks to recover from the pandemic. Similarly, in remarks at the High-level Segment of the UN Economic and Social Council on “Multilateralism after COVID-19: what kind of UN do we need at the 75th anniversary?” in July, UN Secretary-GeneralAntónio Guterres said that networked, inclusive, and effective multilateralism would aid global efforts to promote recovery and the continued implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We cannot agree more. However, this vision seems lacking when Taiwan—one of the world’s model democracies and a success story in containing the current pandemic—continues to be barred from taking part in and exchanging experiences and information with the UN system.

Even as the pandemic has made the international community acutely aware of Taiwan’s unjust and discriminatory exclusion from the World Health Organization and the UN system, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to press the UN to use an erroneous interpretation of the 1971 UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 (XXVI) as the legal basis for blocking Taiwan. The fact is that this resolution does not address the issue of Taiwan’srepresentation in the UN, nor does it state that Taiwan is part of the PRC. In fact, Taiwan is not, nor has it ever been, a part of the PRC. Our President and legislature are directly elected by the people of Taiwan. Moreover, border controls instituted during the pandemic offer further evidence to counter the PRC’s false claims. The UN must recognize that only Taiwan’s democratically elected government can represent its 23.5 million people; the PRC has no right to speak on Taiwan’s behalf.

Not having Taiwan’s input in the UN is a loss to the global community, and will hamper Member States’ efforts to regain normalcy and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in full and on time. By drawing on its outstanding work on the SDGs, Taiwan can help countries better recover from the disruption caused by the pandemic. Our economy has proven resilient: the Asian Development Bank forecast that Taiwan’s economic performance in 2020 would be the best among the Four Asian Tigers—the only one to show positive growth. Moreover, many of our SDG indicators—including gender equality, economic growth, clean water and sanitation, reduced inequality, and good health and wellbeing—have reached levels comparable to OECD countries. Our ongoing efforts to implement the SDGs coupled with our proven pandemic response put Taiwan in a much better position than most to help the global community in tackling the ongoing challenges facing humanity.

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