Taiwan’s acting ambassador to India Chih-Hao Jack Chen said in an exclusive interview to India Today TV that China’s ill intentions have unilaterally damaged peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. He also highlighted the fact that China’s aggressive diplomatic manoeuvres, “wolf-warrior diplomacy” and efforts to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic have alarmed many countries.
The top Taiwanese diplomat said all countries in the world should strengthen cooperation to better respond to growing threats from China. Chen also shared his views on Taiwan’s growing diplomatic ties with India and the country’s effort to handle the coronavirus pandemic:
Q1) How did your country manage to handle the Covid-19 crisis despite being excluded from the world’s most important international health body and denied the opportunity to share experiences and information with other countries?
A: Taiwan has been excluded from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for years. To better protect itself, Taiwan has actively sought the experiences of other countries through bilateral channels. In facing the Covid-19 pandemic, Taiwan has relied on the strong anti-pandemic mechanism and advanced preparedness measures that it established in the wake of the 2003 SARS outbreak, adopting a whole-of-government approach.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) was established early on to effectively coordinate the anti-pandemic efforts of central government agencies and local governments. In addition, we enlisted help from the private sector to develop smart technology applications to track confirmed cases and trace their contacts, thus successfully preventing the spread of the disease and establishing the Taiwan Model for anti-pandemic efforts.
If WHO had fully incorporated Taiwan early on, we could have shared with the world our anti-pandemic experiences and provided assistance, benefiting Taiwan, WHO, and the international community.
Taiwan learned hard lessons from the 2003 SARS outbreak. Over the past 17 years, we have enhanced our anti-pandemic capacity by establishing a comprehensive medical network to better prevent and treat infectious diseases, strengthen both the procedures and facilities needed for large-scale outbreaks, and fortify our National Health Insurance system.
When SARS first appeared, China covered up in early cases. Right after a new pandemic was suspected, Taiwan took action using three principles—caution, rapid response, and advance preparedness. This lead to our successful containment of the pandemic and minimised its impact on our people’s daily lives.
In facing this pandemic, our government has had to be extremely flexible in allocating resources and manpower. Using a whole-of-government approach, Taiwan established the CECC to better coordinate the disease prevention efforts of central government agencies and local governments.
In addition, the public and private sectors have collaborated to organise national teams for the production of masks and protective gowns. Smart technology and big data have also been applied to our disease prevention efforts.
Taiwan has conducted dozens of videoconferences with government agencies, medical institutions, public health experts, and think tanks in Canada, Japan, the United States, and other countries. In this way we have shared the Taiwan Model, exchanged information and experiences, and promoted scientific research and cooperation on the development of rapid test kits, vaccines, and medicines.
Q2) How do we create a more representative and effective multilateral system or organisation to ensure that a country like China cannot manipulate the entire international arena to its advantage?
A: Four United Nations specialised agencies—the Food and Agriculture Organisation, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, International Civil Aviation Organisation, and International Telecommunication Union—have a Chinese director general or secretary general.
The Chinese government has been striving to install Chinese nationals in key positions in international organisations so as to change and manipulate them and carry out policies favourable to China. Their efforts have disrupted the rules-based international order. EU members, the US, and other countries have expressed concern about China’s aggressive expansion in international organisations.
Taiwan is willing and able to share its experiences with the world and continues to strive to participate in international conferences and mechanisms with the aim to cooperate more with global partners in the effort to realise the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Due to China’s obstruction and UN specialised agencies’ failure to uphold a professional and impartial position, our country still faces many difficulties. For example, the World Health Organisation once again refused to invite Taiwan to participate in the World Health Assembly in May due to pressure from China. However, more and more countries have taken note of China’s unreasonable demands in these international organisations.
International organisations should seek to attain the objectives shared by all members rather than those of a single member. Article 100 of the United Nations Charter states that “each Member of the United Nations undertakes to respect the exclusively international character of the responsibilities of the Secretary-General and the staff and not to seek to influence them in the discharge of their responsibilities.” We hope that countries will keep a close eye on China’s inappropriate influence and urge the secretariats of related international organisations to show professionalism and impartiality for the sake of multilateralism.