ISSUE 36                                                                                       April 23, 2020
Taiwan Weekly
Reliable report and analysis of the most important issues in Taiwan
In This Issue
● This Week in Taiwan: 
Other Important Events This Week


Trump Blames WHO, Praises Taiwan
The World Health Organization (WHO) praised the effectiveness of Taiwan's pandemic response but claimed that whether Taiwan may participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA) this year should be decided by member states.
(Photo from: China Times)
Featured News
WHO Praises Taiwan for Epidemic Prevention Efforts, Avoids Discussing Taiwan’s Participation in WHA

China Times, April 19, 2020


In Taiwan, zero confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases for three days in seven days were good news for every one last week. On April 17, the World Health Organization (WHO), which was frequently hyper-criticized by U.S. President Donald Trump, also for the first-time praised Taiwan ’s epidemic prevention management. However, the WHO made use of an excuse to shirk its responsibility by arguing that it was still up to member states of the WHO to decide whether Taiwan can participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the said international organization.


During the WHO press conference held on April 17, the media made reference to many recent criticisms of Taiwan ’s being excluded from the WHO, and to its effective pandemic prevention experience which could be used as a global benchmark. The media further asked the WHO ’s viewpoints. Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom did not take the initiative to respond, instead other senior WHO officials took turns to answer.


Maria van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, said that during the pandemic, the WHO has been working with Taiwan at the technical level, and it was important to learn from all anti-pandemic "countries" around the world. Moreover, Steven Solomon, the Principal Legal Officer at the WHO, exchanged opinions with scientists from Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and they also held teleconferences with Taiwan to obtain valuable information. In addition, the WHO regularly communicates with Taiwan experts through the WHO platform.


Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Program, hailed Taiwan ’s public health efforts. He gave the credit to Taiwan and Taiwan’s CDC. Ryan has also taken note of similar approaches in Hong Kong and mainland China. He expressed that the WHO is now including Taiwan in a technical network system. It allows Taiwan not only to share its contributions, but also to seek new knowledge from the WHO.


This is the first time that the WHO officials have praised Taiwan's pandemic prevention performances since its outbreak. As for whether Taiwan can participate in the WHA in May this year, Principal Legal Counsel Steven Solomon did reply by only saying that this is a matter to be decided by the organization’s member states, and WHO staff are not in a position to do so.


Microphone diplomacy over the pandemic outbreak between the United States, the two sides of the Taiwan Straits and the WHO continued to grow. Through Twitter, Trump once again mentioned that in December last year, Taiwanese health officials sent a warning e-mail to the WHO to the effect that the new coronavirus may be spread from person to person. Unfortunately, the said e-mail was ignored by the WHO. President Trump also denounced China for its cover-up.


However, regarding the warning e-mail that Taiwan sent to the WHO, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council stated that the information in the said e-mail was sourced from the notice of the Wuhan Health Commission. In response, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, who heads Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), was low-key in his answer and did not deny the said information. He replied that many people argued whether Taiwan or mainland China was the first to report to the WHO on December 31 last year. As a matter of fact, professionals should raise their awareness when they received such information, and Taiwan’s notification to the WHO was only performing its duty as a citizen of the world.



Featured Editorial
Taiwanese people raised funds to publish a full-page advertisement in The New York Times.
(Photo from: Aaron Nieh's Facebook)
Trump Shifts Blame to WHO to Save Election, Taiwan Ad Stokes Fire

United Daily News, April 15, 2020


Recently, the New York Times and other important news media have continued criticizing President Donald Trump of the United States for dereliction of duty. To save his election, President Trump is shifting blame to the World Health Organization (WHO) and announced on April 14 that the United States will withdraw funding from the WHO.


Coincidently, on the same day, Taiwan put an advertisement in the New York Times, criticizing WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom. The ad stoked fire with the slogan “Taiwan Can Help."


On the other side of the Atlantic, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, who recovered from the coronavirus (COVID-19) a few days ago, announced the same day that Britain would donate £200 million to the WHO and other charity groups.


With WHO funding having just been suspended by the United States, Tedros was greatly moved by the British donation and praised Johnson's magnanimous act. Through the donation to WHO, Britain unwittingly expressed its position not to choose sides between America and China.


At the time of rising pandemic and a death toll of over 10,000 at home, Britain continued to donate consecutively a total of £740 million, making the country one of the biggest donors in the world.


According to Trump's logic, Britain needs not make the donation, and Prime Minister Johnson, who had just escaped the deadly coronavirus, has ample reasons to criticize Dr. Tedros. Instead, Britain perseveres in calmness and goes its own way.


In a statement, the United Kingdom made clear that helping the poorest countries fight against the pandemic will help prevent a second spread of coronavirus in Britain. This spirit of pragmatism also found expression in Germany, which was kind enough to take in serious patients of coronavirus from Italy and France.


Britain and Germany have been making great efforts to maintain regional balance and avoid taking sides between America and China. This is meant to prevent the pandemic from fracturing the international order that could lead to conflicts.


The pandemic has broken all the political and economic connectivity and expanded all sorts of distance. Not only China, Taiwan and Vietnam have also campaigned aggressively through  humanitarian diplomacy.


Taiwan and the mainland have been striving to advertise their respective mask diplomacy but have continued to let the sovereignty issue dominate at the same time. Consequently, the donation of surgical masks not only shows Taiwan's humanitarian cares, but also reveals Taiwan's political desire to be admitted to the WHO.


What is worse, some Taiwanese try to gain respect from the mask diplomacy and take seriously the appreciation and support the recipient countries showed. If the responses from these recipient countries are not satisfactory, cyberbullying follows. As a result, "Taiwan can help” may turn into "Taiwan can attack.”


Like China, which has endeavored to clear its name as the culprit of the pandemic, Taiwan has been tinging its mask diplomacy with too much utilitarian color. Consequently, recipient countries may be appreciative, but they may not be moved.


To conduct humanitarian diplomacy, we all have to learn from Britain. Do not complain when suffering, and light the torch for others when you are able. Face masks may run out, but lofty ideals remain. If an act is genuinely from the heart, then there is no need for advertisement. 



Featured Opinion
Whether American democracy or Chinese authoritarianism is superior is worthy of debate.
(Photo from:  United Daily News)

U.S.–China Institutional Competition—

Part I: The United States

By Su Chi
United Daily News
, April 5, 2020


Many years ago, this author was asked during the oral defense of his doctoral dissertation in the United States, "If aliens were to mount a massive attack on the earth, what changes do you think there would be in international relations?" I replied, "It depends on how powerful the aliens were. If it seemed that humankind might be wiped out, every country might work together. If that weren't the case, some countries might even team up with the aliens to fight their opponent nations." To this day, I cannot say for certain whether the smile on the teacher's face was approving or mocking.

The impact of COVID-19, much like an alien invasion, has brought total uncertainty. Fortunately, after two months of a war of words, the US and China finally shown some willingness to cooperate. But the difference in the ways they have dealt with the pandemic may also highlight a deeper issue: which is better, American democracy or the socialist system of the PRC? This article seeks to analyze the U.S. first.

In the past, most people were deeply convinced of the superiority of the democratic system of government - "of the People, by the People and for the People." During my years in public office, I often traveled abroad, proudly proclaiming the precious value of Taiwan's democracy. Many Chinese inside and outside of Mainland China also expressed sincere envy of Taiwan’s newborn democracy. But the favorable ambience seems to have weakened considerably during the past decade. Not only have 30 percent of democratic countries backtracked to retain democracy only in form while actually becoming autocratic; some in Europe and America have even begun to question the legitimacy of democracy. How could this happen?

First, one needs to look at economics. If we say that China's economy is determined by politics, the politics in U.S. has always been driven by economics. What is crucial at present is that capitalism in the U.S. is ill! Since the 1980s, capitalism has excessively and single-mindedly pursued profit, ignoring wages and social welfare, leading to an exorbitant concentration of global wealth. The total wealth of the 26 richest individuals is equivalent to the wealth of half of the world's population (i.e., 3.8 billion people). In the U.S., the top 0.1 percent of people hold 20 percent of the country’s total wealth, the top 0.9 percent hold another 20 percent, and the top 9 percent of all Americans account for a further 40 percent. The gap between rich and poor in the U.S. has become so glaring that the U.S. Congressman elected from the Silicon Valley district has admitted to the media that his super-rich constituents are very worried about the prospect of revolution in the United States.

So, how is the remaining 20 percent of U.S. wealth distributed among the other 90 percent of Americans in the lowest part of the wealth pyramid? Statistics show that the average salary of low- and intermediate-level workers has not risen for 40 years. Fifty percent of Americans have no savings, let alone any preparation for retirement. Forty percent live paycheck to paycheck; 10 percent have no health insurance. Only 30 percent of high school graduates can afford the sky-high tuition rates for a college education. Those so-called “poor whites” with meager educational attainment and daunting challenges for employment account for 47 percent of the entire white population in the U.S. They mostly live in small states, small cities, or rural areas. For them, the only chance of upward mobility is to move away from where they grew up.

Those bereft of opportunity drown their sorrows by taking drugs or resorting to alcohol. According to expert statistics, the number of “deaths of despair” in the U.S. has soared in recent years, reaching nearly 160,000 in 2017, which is “equivalent of three fully-loaded Boeing 737 MAX jets falling out of the sky every day for a year.” Among them, 70,000 did so by overdosing on drugs. That number is more than the total number of U.S. deaths in the Vietnam War. According to a retired U.S. general, obesity, drug abuse, alcoholism, and misconduct have reduced the proportion of young people in the U.S. qualified for military service to merely 25 percent. Try imagining, then, how public confidence in “for the People” could not be shaken!

And what about "government by the People"? Due to population flows, smaller states are losing population while larger ones are gaining. But every state regardless of size has two senators, so anyone whose political party controlled the 25 smallest American states that together constitute 16 percent of entire U.S. population would have the loyal support of 50 U.S. Senators. He (or she) could veto any bill that the other 84 percent of Americans favored, influence the appointment of government officials, and is sufficiently powerful to defeat any attempt at presidential impeachment. Mr. Trump cleverly grasped this fundamental set of game rules to win the White House despite losing the popular vote; and while in office, has said and done whatever he desired with no concern about democratic checks and balances.

Senator Bernie Sanders, who has long itched to take on the capitalists, has of course zero chance to win the White House. Mr. Trump, on the other hand, not only has eschewed offending capitalists, he has even lowered the income tax rates for middle and high income earners by 2 to 4 percent, while deflecting all resentment by “poor whites” toward China, Mexico, Muslims, and immigrants.

No wonder the latest Gallup poll indicates that Americans generally have low confidence in a number of the pillars of their democracy, such as the President (38%), Congress (11%), the Supreme Court (38%), big business (23%), newspapers (23%), television (18%), religion (36%), and banks (30%). All these numbers are far lower than those of twenty years earlier.

Furthermore, some experts have even begun to worry aloud that the advent of the "digital revolution" would further expose the weaknesses of America's separation of powers, because it not only slows down decision-making, but also makes it difficult to harness private-sector technological power for national use.

Nevertheless, the potential of the U.S. should not be underestimated. Its geographical security gives it a head up over any and all major powers seeking competition with it. Currently the federal government may be dysfunctional, the state governments and private sector remain generally vibrant. It is still robustly affluent (GDP is one and a half times, and its total wealth is twice that of China), so it can withstand wastage for quite some time. If it remains open and diversified culturally, it can continue to attract talents from abroad. Thus, although the U.S. has fallen ill, and not a slight illness at that, it still remains a mighty eagle.


If the United States can begin to treat the disease early enough, regeneration of its democracy can be expected. However, should it remain divided and mired in internecine struggle, allowing the malady to worsen, then its long-term competitiveness could be worrisome indeed.

( The author is Chairman of Taipei Forum)



Featured Opinion
Chang Ching-yi is a Dragon Television (mainland China) reporter born in Taiwan.
(Photo from: Chang Ching-yi's Facebook)

Does Reporter Need to Apologize for His Identity?

By Hwang Kuang-Kuo
China Times, April 18, 2020

President Donald Trump of the United States asked Dragon Television correspondent Chang Ching-yi, “Where are you from?” on April 8 during a White House press conference. Chang replied, “I am from Taiwan.” The incident resulted in heated debates within Taiwan. Chiu Chui-cheng, deputy minister of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), said that Ching-yi Chang works for a news media which is state-owned, and thus may violate the Act Governing Cross-Strait Relations. Chiu also indicated that MAC will collaborate with pertinent authorities to make punitive decision.


Chiu indicated that whether Chang’s job is in contravention of the law depends on three principles: First, issues involving national identity or basic loyalty; second, help facilitating pro-unification work towards Taiwan; third, detriment to national security or interests. The Office of the President immediately expressed that Chang indeed has violated the Act.


The question is, can the MAC itself make a decision regarding Chang based on these three principles of judgement? Is Chiu the judge? Why can he rule that Ching-yi Chang has violated the Act? If this is the case, all legal disputes should be referred to the ministries themselves, leaving the judiciary little to do. The development of this incident immediately reminded people of President Tsai Ing-wen’s famous statement on her victory on January 16, 2016: “As long as I am the president, no one needs to apologize for his identity.” Today we should think about the threads of situation in which Chang said: “I am from Taiwan.”


Chang was born in Yunlin, Taiwan, and graduated from National Chengchi University. As a White House correspondent. he has obtained dual official certifications from the White House and White House Correspondents Associated, and he is also the only Chinese media member associated with the White House media group. He now works for Shanghai Dragon Television, but he is not a formal staff member of the TV company’s establishment, nor does he serve under the Communist Party’s political and military system. He is basically a contractual worker at best. Mainland Chinese satellite TV companies have already been marketized. Except for a few ranking directors with the official radio and television bureau apparatus, other reporters, editors, and producers are contracted for three years in general. Employment extension depends on their performance.


I would like to ask President Tsai: If you were Chang, what would you say when President Trump asks you: “Where are you from?” at the White House press conference? Would you say, “I am from Shanghai?” What was wrong for Chang to say that he is from Taiwan? Did he try to “unify Taiwan” for Communist China? Did he harm “national security or interests?” How should he answer in order to show his “national identity” or “loyalty?” President Tsai is the sitting president now and has the final say. She should not forget her promise that “No one needs to apologize for his identity.”  


 ( The author is professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology, National Taiwan University.)



 This Week in Taiwan

April 15: Ho Ching, wife of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, recently shared a news article of Taiwan donating face masks to Singapore and commented “Err…,” triggering heated debate among Internet users from Taiwan and Singapore. Ho posted and expressed gratitude to all Taiwanese friends. She urged everyone not to attack each other on the Internet and work together to fight the pandemic. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center, admitted that the export of two mask production lines invested by Singapore was banned in the early stage of epidemic prevention and has caused problems for Singapore.

April 15: Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning recently sailed through the Miyako Strait, waters around eastern Taiwan, and the Bashi Channel to conduct training in the South China Sea. An American Boeing RC-135W reconnaissance aircraft appeared in the waters around southern Taiwan, which is the 12th time since March 25 that a U.S. military aircraft has appeared in the surrounding air space. In her Facebook post, former Vice President Annette Lu warned against military tensions amid the pandemic.

April 17: The Central Election Commission announced that the recall case related to Kaohsiung Mayor Kan Kuo-yu has met the legal threshold in terms of the number of signed petitions, and a recall vote will be held on June 6. This is the first case in Taiwan’s history that a special municipality mayor will be subject to a recall vote. The Taipei High Administrative Court also dismissed Han’s claim to suspend the recall. Han will appeal.

April 17: According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Labor, the number of workers in Taiwan on unpaid leave is approaching 15,000, and a total of 588 organizations have implemented unpaid leave, a record high since 2009. Those applying for unpaid leave have extended from tourism to the manufacturing industry. In particular, the number of workers on unpaid leave in the Hsinchu Science Park has increased 10 times since last week.

April 18: Three officers aboard the Goodwill Fleet of the Taiwanese navy contracted coronavirus (COVID-19), in Taiwan’s first instance of warship transmission. Three warships and more than 700 officers were released on April 15 but urgently recalled on April 18. Chief of the General Staff Huang Shu-kuang, Navy Commander Liu Chih-pin, and Minister of National Defense Yen Teh-fa were subject to 14 days of health self-monitoring. As of April 23, the number of confirmed cases from the fleet increased to 29. The Ministry of National Defense announced that all members of the Army, Navy, and Air Force shall wear masks throughout and conduct health self-monitoring.

April 18: Chang Ching-yi, a Dragon Television (mainland China) reporter born in Taiwan, asked questions at the White House press conference on April 8. President Donald Trump asked where Chang came from, and Chang replied, “I am from Taiwan.” On April 16, the Mainland Affairs Council noted that Chang’s employment at a media organization associated with the Chinese Communist Party and government may violate Taiwan’s “Act Governing Cross-Strait Relations” and be liable to a fine of NT$100,000 (about US$3,300) to NT$500,000 (about US$16,600). On Twitter, President Trump accused the reporter and wrote: “Cut him off now!” prohibiting him from entering the White House briefing room.

Taiwan Weekly is a newsletter released every week by Fair Winds Foundation and Association of Foreign Relations that provides coverage and perspectives into the latest developments in Taiwan.

The conclusions and recommendations of any Taiwan Weekly article are solely those of its author(s), and do not reflect the views of the institutions that publish the newsletter.

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