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AsiaGlobal Voices

Trending Opinions From Across the Region

AsiaGlobal Voices is a curated feed of summaries of opinion articles, columns and editorials published in local languages in media from across Asia.

The publication of AsiaGlobal Voices summaries does not indicate any endorsement by the Asia Global Institute or AsiaGlobal Online of the opinions expressed in them.
The Freedom To Choose Not To Consume
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
The Freedom To Choose Not To Consume

James Wang, senior journalist, in Liberty Times (December 1, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Jason Goh/Pixabay)

The Freedom To Choose Not To Consume

The opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party, which ruled Taiwan under martial law for nearly four decades, continues to produce the most absurd political performances at the most inappropriate of occasions. Instead of behaving maturely under a democracy, they chose to humiliate themselves by throwing pig guts in the parliament to raise the issue of food safety and to protest the government’s decision to allow meat imports from the US. The KMT continue to prove themselves completely incapable of adapting to Taiwan's democracy. Their political judgment remains inferior.

Taiwan is small, and its economic development depends on foreign trade which must comply with international rules. While the government has the responsibility to ensure the safety of food and meet global standards, in a free market, the consumer should ultimately have the freedom to choose what food they wish to consume. In a free market, nobody can force you to consume anything.

American meat will be imported in compliance with international food safety standards. The KMT consistently exaggerates and more and more behaves inappropriately in depriving Taiwan consumers of the right to choose. The KMT want to dictate whether Taiwan people can consume American produce or not.


The Government Must Guarantee the Freedom to Criticize the Ruling Party
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
The Government Must Guarantee the Freedom to Criticize the Ruling Party

Chen Fu, professor and Director of the General Education Center at National Dong Hwa University, in China Times (December 30, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Solomon203)

The Government Must Guarantee the Freedom to Criticize the Ruling Party

Yazhou Zhoukan (“Asia Weekly”) is a Hong Kong-based magazine read by Chinese intellectuals all over the world. While mainland authorities have banned subscriptions, it has always taken a middle path approach, respecting the “one country, two systems” principle, even with the challenging political situation in Hong Kong. It has tried to present both points of view on cross-strait issues.

The latest issue has generated controversy as it depicts Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in royal garb from the Qin Dynasty, smiling on a throne, with her administration characterized as a “dictatorship”. This has prompted a ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokeswoman to claim that the publication is a mouthpiece for the Beijing government. Is this claim true?

Yazhou Zhoukan uses the words "Republic of China" in news reports without quotation marks. This alone shows that the mainland authorities respect Hong Kong’s freedom of speech and press. The DPP, however, continues to claim that the media is actively suppressing Hong Kong’s freedom and democracy. Ironically, in the latest issue, Yazhou Zhoukan interviews DPP politicians to discuss Tsai’s governance. Yet it is considered pro-Communist. 

Under the more-and-more restricted political environment in Taiwan, criticizing the government has become dangerous. As a result, most intellectuals have been silenced. Not only has the Chung T’ien Television News channel been shut down, but from February 1 this year, the publishing of books authorized by mainland publishers will first need to be approved by the Taiwan Ministry of Culture. The DPP cannot allow people in Taiwan the freedom to criticize only the Communist Party of China. They must also guarantee the freedom to criticize the DPP. 


Biden’s Win Was a Response to Trends in Sino-US Relations
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Biden’s Win Was a Response to Trends in Sino-US Relations

Chao Chun-shan, Honorary Professor at the Graduate Institute of China Studies at Tamkang University, in My Formosa (November 9, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Victoria Pickering)

Biden’s Win Was a Response to Trends in Sino-US Relations

While US President-elect Joe Biden's first priority on taking office will be to address the divisions in American society, he will also need to make changes in foreign policy. 

It is unrealistic to expect Biden to return to Barack Obama’s policy of engagement with China. Biden’s key diplomatic strategist and nominee to be secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has openly acknowledged that China presents new challenges and that the status quo is unsustainable. Nevertheless, Biden's China advisers generally oppose the so-called "new Cold War" and "decoupling" from China. While Biden’s team will need to focus immediately on Covid-19 and emerging economic problems, both tasks will require contact and potentially cooperation with China.

Biden's past statements offer some clues on what his cross-strait policy could look like. After the severance of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and the United States in 1979, the then-senator was one of the initiators of the Taiwan Relations Act. But in 1999, he strongly opposed the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act on the grounds that formal military communications would risk provoking China. As such, Biden’s policy may not differ significantly from Trump’s. Furthermore, while Sino-US relations are likely to become more predictable after Biden takes office, the Chinese Communist Party’s objective of achieving reunification is unlikely to change.  

Some people in Taiwan had been choosing sides in the US election. This is futile and the government should refrain from doing this. Diplomacy is about forging good relations so it is natural to focus diplomatic work on the ruling party. The existence of opposition parties, however, should be considered in relations with other democracies. Both the ruling and opposition parties in Taiwan must put Taiwan’s interests first rather than using elections elsewhere as a reason to argue.


Caution Required: Economic Cooperation with the US may Create Dependency
Friday, September 25, 2020
Caution Required: Economic Cooperation with the US may Create Dependency

Ko Yu-chih, Associate Professor, Department of Diplomacy, National Chengchi University, in China Times (September 24, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Wang Yu-ching/Office of the President, Taiwan)

Caution Required: Economic Cooperation with the US may Create Dependency

On August 9, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar led a delegation to Taiwan. On September 17, a delegation led by Keith Krach, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, arrived in Taipei. The results of the two visits were mixed. Azar and Krach are the highest-ranking US officials to visit Taiwan since 1979. While Azar’s visit was open and formal, Krach’s was low-key and informal. This raises questions over the true intentions of the US.

The Azar delegation not only met President Tsai Ing-wen, but they also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC). Meanwhile, the Krach delegation’s itinerary was not confirmed publicly beforehand and the format minimized intergovernmental meetings.

Azar’s delegation visited to discuss Covid-19 and public health cooperation, while Krach’s delegation was engaged in “funeral diplomacy”, attending the memorial service of former president Lee Teng-hui. The subsequent exchanges with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on US-Taiwan economic cooperation took place on the sidelines.

The two delegations will provide a boost to the current government, given that Taiwan’s international recognition has been gradually reduced. The excessively low-key nature of the Krach delegation, however, highlights the caution of US diplomats in deepening economic relations and suggests that the Washington has no desire in provoking Beijing.

While Azar’s delegation signed a MoU, it did not cover vaccine cooperation, an area to which Taiwan is eager to contribute. Meanwhile, Krach’s delegation was particularly interested in Taiwan's screening of foreign investments. This could end up dragging Taiwan into the Sino-US trade war or giving the US the right to intervene in Taiwan’s investment review processes. The government must be cautious as this could ultimately make Taiwan more dependent on the US. 


Does Taiwan Still Need the Kuomintang?
Friday, September 18, 2020
Does Taiwan Still Need the Kuomintang?

Lee Min-yung, poet and social critic, in Liberty Times (September 16, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory

Does Taiwan Still Need the Kuomintang?

The stated goal and mission of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, or KMT) no longer exists. The KMT wants to fight on behalf of the People's Republic of China and give them the authority to rule Taiwan. On the other hand, the goal of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and some other Taiwanese parties is to establish Taiwan as a separate entity from the People’s Republic of China. While the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) used to be enemies who wanted to destroy each other, now they are allies. Today, the main enemy of the KMT is not the CCP but the ruling party in Taiwan, the DPP.

In the 1950s, the KMT was centered on Chiang Kai-shek who used martial law and white terror to deal with dissidents. Not only those involved in communism, but also those who reformed and defended Taiwan were persecuted. In 1971, due to the self-serving nature of the KMT, the Republic of China was officially expelled from the United Nations and replaced by People's Republic of China. As a result, any protection over Taiwan's national status was immediately lost. 

The KMT now views Taiwan as a bargaining chip and supports its absorption by the CCP. However, after the lifting of the martial law and democratization, the Taiwan people who have left the KMT, including the descendants of post-war immigrants, have spurned the KMT’s desire to sell off Taiwan. The peaceful revolutions carried out through elections has gradually shaped a new distinct Taiwan. Considering these developments, does Taiwan still need the KMT?


Finding a Balance with the US and the Mainland
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Finding a Balance with the US and the Mainland

Ko Yu-chih, Associate Professor, Department of Diplomacy, National Chengchi University, in China Times (September 12, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Office of the President, Taiwan)

Finding a Balance with the US and the Mainland

During the Cold War, Taiwan was seen to be abandoned by the US when Washington was forced into having relations with just one side of the Strait. With the possibility of a new Cold War between the US and China, Taiwan is now being made to choose a side and is leaning towards the US. The possibility of the US abandoning Taiwan again cannot be ruled out, however.

After President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May 2016, the continued decline in cross-strait relations has resulted in Taiwan kowtowing to the US. In the long run, Taiwan must be committed to building a balanced trilateral relationship. This, as Johnny Chiang, the chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) has stated, is the only option in line with Taiwan’s best interests.

Achieving balance is not an easy task. It requires not only the right time, the right place, and the harmony of people but also meticulous diplomacy. Mutual trust and respect mutual are the only way to avoid war. Maintaining peace across the Strait, amid declining Sino-US relations, is therefore an important goal that should transcend partisanship and that officials and civilians on both sides of the Strait should work together towards.

As the confrontation between Beijing and Washington increases, the security of the Taiwan Strait is more at risk. To reverse the downward spiral towards conflict and avoid a Cold War, cross-strait exchanges and dialogue must increase. He proposed to continue engagements to resolve the current differences in understanding between the two sides towards the "1992 Consensus". This will allow the two sides to ease tensions and establish an environment conducive to maintaining peace.


The Friendliness of the Abe Administration
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
The Friendliness of the Abe Administration

Ogasawara Yoshiyuki, Professor at the Institute of Global Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, in Liberty Times (September 7, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Office of the President, Taiwan)

The Friendliness of the Abe Administration

The government of Abe Shinzo has been the friendliest Japanese government to Taiwan since the severance of diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Taipei in 1972. In the absence of formal ties, Prime Minister Abe and President Tsai Ing-wen regularly send encouraging messages to each other on Twitter – this alone is worthy of recognition.

One of the greatest achievements has been the Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement signed in 2013. As a result, territorial issues between Japan and Taiwan have faded and bilateral relations have improved. The Abe government has also been committed to promoting bilateral exchanges – albeit in a low-key manner – since this agreement. When Tsai Ing-wen was elected president in January 2016, Abe congratulated her publicly, and in 2017 the Japanese government renamed its de-facto embassy from the Japan-Taiwan Interchange Association to the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association.

After 2017, however, the Abe administration’s relationship with Taiwan stagnated due to Taiwan’s continued restrictions of food imports from five prefectures surrounding Fukushima, where the nuclear disaster occurred in 2011. Meanwhile, Japan-China relations began to improve with Abe openly welcoming a visit from Xi Jinping to Japan. Nevertheless, the Abe administration has also moved to contain China.

Overall, the tremendous support given by the people of Taiwan people during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami has helped to strengthen bilateral relations and also improve the attitude of Japanese society towards Taiwan. As a result, people-to-people exchanges have also become more frequent. While the Abe administration certainly contributed to improve in relations, it is even more important to acknowledge the hard work of many Japanese and Taiwan people who have continued to strive for deeper mutual understanding.


Don’t Get Too Excited About Czech-Taiwan Relations
Thursday, July 2, 2020
Don’t Get Too Excited About Czech-Taiwan Relations

Hsu Mien-sheng, Taiwan diplomat, in Storm Media Group (June 27, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: www.vystrcil.cz)

Don’t Get Too Excited About Czech-Taiwan Relations

Domestic media recently reported that the Czech Senate President Miloš Vystrčil plans to visit Taiwan. This will not only involve Czech-Taiwan relations but also cross-strait relations. If cross-strait relations are harmonious, exchanges with countries without diplomatic relations are relatively straightforward. Visa-free treatment for Taiwan citizens in the European Schengen countries was achieved under harmonious cross-strait relations. Today, ties are tense and Taipei’s exchanges with countries with which it has no diplomatic relations will inevitably aggravate Beijing.

Vystrčil has been extremely friendly to Taiwan. Despite his lofty status, however, he is of relatively low political importance. Czech President Miloš Zeman, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček all have discouraged the visit because of their concerns about the relationship between the Czech Republic and China. Beijing has reacted strongly, with the Chinese Embassy in Prague declaring that the visit is “blatant support for the separatist forces and activities in Taiwan, which seriously violate China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Many politicians from countries with no diplomatic relations have visited Taiwan over the years, but they have observed diplomatic practices and not announced it beforehand. There has been no incident and no trouble to any party. Diplomacy should be about doing more and talking less. It is necessary to respect the professional judgment of diplomats and act in the proper way to prevent incidents. In this case, Taiwan’s representative in the Czech Republic behaved inappropriately by not consulting other parties on the handling of this announcement.

While Taiwan should cherish its friendship with the Czech Republic, we must avoid getting too excited. It would be inappropriate for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party to use this visit for publicity. While it was originally seen as a positive event, any negative consequences could be more costly that it is worth.


The Government’s Plans to Aid Hong Kong Citizens Raise Questions
Monday, June 22, 2020
The Government’s Plans to Aid Hong Kong Citizens Raise Questions

Tai Shih-yin, lawyer, in United Daily News (June 20, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Makoto Lin/Office of the President, Taiwan)

The Government’s Plans to Aid Hong Kong Citizens Raise Questions

The Mainland Affairs Council has finally announced a new “Humanitarian Aid and Care Action Plan” for Hong Kong citizens. There remains, however, a number of legal uncertainties about how it would work.

First, the legal basis of the action plan is both general and brief. The relevant provisions have not been updated since they were devised in 1997. Whether the existing legal basis can cope with the new relationship between Taiwan and Hong Kong is unclear. 

Second, once a draft “Refugee Law” is passed, the legal rights of Hong Kong people will be lower than that of foreigners or stateless people. From a macro perspective, Taiwan's assistance to Hong Kong people lacks comprehensive and clear legal protection.

Third, assistance is focused on “specific cases” through the Executive Yuan. This model inherently has the advantages of stricter scrutiny, adaptability to circumstances and the avoidance of wasted resources. In the absence of transparent and open supporting regulations, however, it will lack external supervision, and any administrative arbitrary decision making could affect the fairness of any assistance allocation.

Many more questions remain. For example, what is the definition and applicable eligibility criteria of the so-called “political reasons” in the aforementioned regulations? Are they limited to those prosecuted under the “Hong Kong version of the National Security Law”? Will the same assistance be provided to suspected criminals who have also participated in violent resistance in Hong Kong? If a case's application for assistance is rejected, what are the procedures for legal remedy?

Without a sound foundation for the rule of law, is the action plan merely lip service?


Help Retirees who are Willing to Work Again
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Help Retirees who are Willing to Work Again

Hong De-sheng, Chairman, Taiwanese Association for Ageing Society (TAAS), in Storm Media Group (June 13, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory

Help Retirees who are Willing to Work Again

Improvements in health and life expectancy have helped seniors become more active and socially engaged. According to an online survey by the Taiwanese Association for Ageing Society (TAAS), 88 percent of employed and retired people between the ages of 40 and 75 are willing to continue working after reaching retirement.

There are a number of reasons for this – 23 percent wish to utilize their expertise or interests, 23 percent want to improve their self-worth and increase social participation to keep the mind active and promote health, and 20 percent aim to maintain good physical strength and health. Among those who wish to work again, 46 percent prefer part-time working hours and 42 percent are flexible. Of the retirees who want to work again, 23 percent face barriers to attending an interview, while 15 percent have difficulty getting information on job opportunities because they lack digital access.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, by the end of 2019 there were more than 3.6 million elderly people (over 65 years old) in Taiwan, accounting for 15.28 percent of the total population. In addition to formulating laws and regulations on the employment of middle-aged and senior citizens, the government has encouraged all sectors to promote employment opportunities for them.

A special unit should be set up to facilitate the employment of the approximately 100,000 retirees in different industries. Information on geographical distribution, industry experience and expertise, and willingness to participate in certain activities can be collected through surveys and a digital platform. Supporting retiree participation in the industrial chain and people-centred sectors such as culture, tourism and education will not only improve the overall welfare of the elderly but will also help Taiwan become the next bright spot on the international stage.


The World is Awaking to the “Chinese Dream”
Friday, June 5, 2020
The World is Awaking to the “Chinese Dream”

Lee Min-yung, poet, in Liberty Times (June 3, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory

The World is Awaking to the “Chinese Dream”

In 1979, the United States formally established diplomatic relations with China and redefined its relationship with Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act. On June 4, 1989, tanks ploughed through protestors on Tiananmen Square, exposing the Communist Party of China's totalitarian and authoritarian nature. Yet the US still desired to support China's economic development in the hope that it would promote the development of democratic universal values. Neither the US nor the international community imposed sanctions on China.

China continued to attract foreign investment and efficiently transformed itself into the factory of the world. It used the idea of free capitalism to develop its own economy while promoting the concept of totalitarian socialism or “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Meanwhile, Taiwan was cut off from the international community.

Through Hong Kong's struggles, the Wuhan virus and the aggressive stance of Beijing, the dreamers within the great powers have finally woken up. China’s forces have replaced the old Soviet Union and the essence of the empire has reappeared.

The Communist revolution originally aimed to promote social fairness and justice. Instead, China has become a paradise for private political ambitions. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has become rich but not for the benefit of its citizens or the world. The Cultural Revolution during the Mao Zedong era humiliated and killed many party members and many of the today’s CCP leadership are simply repeating history. Xi Jinping is mimicking Mao Zedong's authoritarian and totalitarian style, just like Hitler in Nazi Germany.

The Hong Kong version of the National Security Law is just a wake-up call. While the ravaging shadow of the Wuhan virus still affects many countries, the Chinese people can accurately understand the nature of the Communist regime. The rest of the world, however, is only just awakening to this reality.


Taiwan is Not Hong Kong: We Must Deepen International Cooperation
Monday, June 1, 2020
Taiwan is Not Hong Kong: We Must Deepen International Cooperation

Hung Chi-chang, chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (2007-08), in China Times (May 28, 2020)

(Photo credit: Yenyu Chen/Pixabay)

Taiwan is Not Hong Kong: We Must Deepen International Cooperation

China’s National People's Congress (NPC) declared that it will pass a national security law for Hong Kong. Beijing ’s tough handling of the Hong Kong issue can be understood this way:

First, Beijing’s priority is to maintain internal political, economic and social stability, as well as manage competition and cooperation between major powers and regional issues. Hong Kong's internal stability is linked to the internal stability of the country.

Second, Hong Kong is an important economic lifeline for China and for Chinese officials as it remains an offshore center and a renminbi-denominated bond-issuance hub and supports international fundraising for development of the Greater Bay Area.

Third, last year’s protests fueled support for the pro-democracy camp’s victory in the Hong Kong district council election. If the pan-democrats dominate the Legislative Council elections this year, it could generate a wave of support among the democratic forces within China and prompt further action by Beijing.

Fourth, while Beijing is well aware that its tough handling of Hong Kong will generate international criticism, they see Hong Kong as a domestic issue. Unlike with other geopolitical issues such as the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait, with Hong Kong, international pressure is significantly less.

Taiwan is not Hong Kong. Taiwan’s foreign minister has warned that Beijing might soon use force against Taiwan. Taiwan cannot be so naïve as to expect the international community to provide unconditional support. To defend Taiwan’s way of life, Taiwan must continue to deepen cooperation with those in the international community that share our values. To protect Taiwan’s autonomy, Taiwan must continue to play a key role in regional security and the global industrial supply chain.


Hong Kong’s “One Country, Two Systems” is Dead
Monday, May 25, 2020
Hong Kong’s “One Country, Two Systems” is Dead

Hu Wenhui, political commentator, in his 胡, 怎麼說 (What Do You Say) column in Liberty Times (May 22, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: FreedomFungPhotography / Shutterstock.com)

Hong Kong’s “One Country, Two Systems” is Dead

President Tsai Ing-wen emphasized in her re-election speech on May 20 that she resolutely rejects Beijing’s "one country, two systems" proposal. Yet, the next day, while the pan-Blue opposition coalition were still criticizing President Tsai for not showing any goodwill to the mainland, the Chinese National People's Congress of announced plans to introduce a national security law in Hong Kong.

In terms of impact, the national security law covers serious crimes such as subverting state power, splitting the country, interfering with foreign forces, and terrorist activities, which could involve imprisoning and strictly controlling the freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and procession. Under such a law, the people of Hong Kong could be easily be convicted of any crime. If they threaten the regime of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), they risk being charged and detained by the authorities. The official introduction of law will mark the moment when the freedom of the Hong Kong people and “one country, two systems” die.

“One country, two systems” has been a mask for the leadership of Hong Kong. When society does not obey orders, the CCP has been shown to throw off this mask, revealing their true face of brutality. The CCP and the Hong Kong government have recently used the excuse of the Covid-19 epidemic measures to suppress the Hong Kong people’s objections to this law. While control measures were expected to have expired, they were suddenly extended to June 4, with all assemblies and processions banned. Nevertheless, the population has already gathered to protest against Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

President Tsai was correct to reject firmly the proposal of “one country, two systems”. Furthermore, judging from the brutality of Beijing’s national security law in Hong Kong, the pan-Blue coalition are simply boneless worms led by the CCP.


Has the Handling of Covid-19 Really Been a Success?
Friday, May 15, 2020
Has the Handling of Covid-19 Really Been a Success?

Liou Pei-pai, former director of the Taiwan Animal Health Research Institute, in China Times (May 11, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Office of the President, Taiwan)

Has the Handling of Covid-19 Really Been a Success?

President Tsai Ing-wen and Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung, supported by media aligned with the ruling coalition, like to boast about Taiwan’s Covid-19 achievements. The government has sought recognition from overseas and even engaged in activities such as face-mask diplomacy, which has garnered thanks from foreign dignitaries.

The reality, however, is that in the early stage of the epidemic Taiwan civilians successfully controlled the epidemic through rapid compliance and the wearing of masks. Major tasks such as the analysis of the virus, antibody screening, testing and vaccine development have not been given significant attention. 

The crisis in Taiwan has nearly subsided, with no domestic cases appearing for 29 days. Taiwan must now focus on its post-epidemic prevention work. While the government claims to have an overall plan for the development of vaccines, new drugs, and faster testing, they have forced academic institutions and private pharmaceutical companies to pursue the fight alone, without government funding.

As a result, no concrete achievements have been made in Taiwan, while research in these fields has yielded results in many countries around the world. Reviewing the situation objectively, Taiwan's epidemic prevention work has fallen behind. Taiwan must urgently think about what should be done to handle another wave of the epidemic.


A Meaningless War of Words
Monday, May 11, 2020
A Meaningless War of Words

Chao Chun-shan, Emeritus Professor at the Graduate Institute of China Studies of Tamkang University, in United Daily News (April 14, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: D Woldu/ITU)

A Meaningless War of Words

During a press conference on April 8, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), accused Taiwan’s government of spearheading personal and racist attacks against him over the past three months. This accusation triggered a war of words between the WHO and Taipei.

There indeed is evidence of some Taiwan netizens criticizing Tedros for what they view is his "pro-China" stance, while using indecent and racist language. Attributing the actions of certain individuals online to the entire population of Taiwan or to the government is unreasonable. It is therefore extreme to assert that Taiwan is "racist". As an immigrant society, Taiwan is known for preserving the warm, harmonious and inclusive aspects of Chinese culture. Taiwan is also renowned for its welcoming people.

Dr Tedros may be unaware of Taiwan ’s historical relations with African nations. As early as the 1960s, Taiwan provided aid to Africa, sending to the continent a large number of medical, farming and engineering teams. Yet many African nations subsequently recognized mainland China, forcing Taiwan off the United Nations.

The Chinese government claims that Taiwan is exploiting the Covid-19 pandemic to accelerate independence. These assertions are nothing more than further moves to oppose Taiwan ’s participation in the WHO. Taiwan is currently battling against the epidemic while simultaneously facing a political war of words. The coronavirus jeopardizes individuals, while political viruses endanger national security.