Former NATO Secretary General ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN writes about Taiwan’s unfair exclusion from the global health community in TIME.
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.
Given the big threat they face in the form of China’s Communist regime, maybe Taiwan should be admitted to NATO, too?