Taiwan lends a helping hand to countries during coronavirus pandemic. (Image Courtesy of taiwantoday.tw)

Coronavirus Coverage

Opinion: Recognition of Taiwan’s achievements could help us all

The coronavirus pandemic brought chaos and confusion to many lives around the world. The coronavirus originated from Wuhan, China, which rapidly spread globally. This pandemic did not only show how dangerous the virus is, but it brought to light the true colors of how large powers playing politics can affect all our lives. Taiwan shut…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/meganhackbarth/" target="_self">Megan Hackbarth</a>

Megan Hackbarth

April 30, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic brought chaos and confusion to many lives around the world. The coronavirus originated from Wuhan, China, which rapidly spread globally. This pandemic did not only show how dangerous the virus is, but it brought to light the true colors of how large powers playing politics can affect all our lives.

Taiwan shut out of most international organizations including the World Health Organization, and has worked alone in early identification of the pandemic threat and proactively implemented measures to protect its citizens. It learned valuable lessons along the way that it was willing to share, to anyone who would listen. Unfortunately, for the world, no one did.

One major health organization that took potentially ineffective early action during COVID-19 crisis was the WHO.

In Article I of the WHO’s charter it says, “The objective of the World Health Organization shall be the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”

Such a statement should provide for the health of all peoples regardless of their political situations. However, as has been extensively covered by recent media articles, the WHO has not fulfilled their charter as its operations have been over-shadowed by the larger political leanings and aspirations of some of its members to the detriment of the world.

“Taiwan is at a disadvantage because the WHO refuses to acknowledge their presence: in an interview, WHO assistant director-general Bruce Aylward appeared to avoid questions about letting Taiwan join the organization despite the nation’s success in containing the virus, and even hangs up on the interviewer when she asks about Taiwan once again,” Irvine High School student Elijah Wen said. “A large reason why Taiwan may be excluded is because they aren’t included as a member of the United Nations, but that further indicates discrimination against [Taiwan].”

Political bias and discrimination within the WHO affected Taiwan’s global recognition. Taiwan has been ignored by many supposedly non-governmental organizations such as the WHO due to China’s political influences. This influence scares many other countries, large and small, to not befriend Taiwan. This not only places Taiwan in an unfortunate situation, but also forces many others to miss out on vital information and advancements that could have helped minimize the effects of the pandemic.

Taiwan has many valuable technological innovations and lessons to share, but the WHO continues to ignore them. Even with negative political influences guiding the WHO, Taiwan has a definite chance to promote itself during the coronavirus crisis to gain the international status it deserves.

“Now that there are no new cases of coronavirus in Taiwan, the nation seeks to help others recover from the pandemic,” Wen said. “Countries such as New Zealand and Israel used the information from Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center to make their own national decisions. Taiwan stated that [they] will donate 10 million masks to the U.S., 11 European countries, and its allies. Another 6 million masks will continue to be donated to Europe, the Americas, and Asia.”

Taiwan recently has shown the world their extraordinary medical procedures toward handling the deadly virus. Although close in proximity to China and other countries severely affected by the virus, Taiwan has had only a small number of confirmed cases. This was due to Taiwan’s proactive approach, early testing, wide use of personal protective measures such as face masks, and early screening of incoming travelers.

Taiwan has shown it clearly learned hard lessons from past pandemics and implemented plans that directly led to its current success in dealing with the current crisis. These are lessons and tactics that would surely benefit Taiwan’s neighbors and other members of the world community — if only the world would be willing to listen.

“Taiwan is one of the top countries in the world in the medical industry. It is hard not to recognize Taiwan for their efforts after their contribution to this pandemic even though they are not part of the WHO. Those who do good deeds will eventually be seen,” Mark Keppel High School student Alison Wang said.

Despite political influence within organizations supposedly supporting the entire world (but excluding Taiwan), Taiwan is gaining popularity. Taiwan’s growing influence and recognition has affected the world’s new and growing perception toward the WHO and China. Taiwan is becoming a household name as they relentlessly prove their generosity toward other countries and display how effective they have been handling COVID-19. It is obvious, the world payed the price when the WHO ignored Taiwan’s offer of assistance.

Wen said this is a revolutionary time for Taiwan.

“The whole world is at war with a virus and Taiwan has largely defeated the effects of the virus,” Wen said. “Taiwan’s participation in and willingness to involve themselves in benefiting other nations are essential actions that lead them to global recognition and power. Hence, Taiwan should continue advocating for their rights and recognition in cases of continued discrimination from the World Health Organization as well as the United Nations as well as helping other nations fight this pathological warfare; it will significantly help Taiwan achieve its global recognition and status.”

Taiwan’s anticipation for global recognition will be a long and difficult process, but it is promising and a worthy journey. Taiwan will continue to face discrimination and many more difficulties with larger neighboring powers.

However, Taiwan will continue to receive recognition and praise long after the pandemic. For years even before the pandemic, Taiwan was a helping hand to their own citizens and countries in times of need. For Taiwan to continue to persevere at the international platform: they must continue to go above and beyond recommendations provided by WHO, befriend countries in the United Nations, and continue to show their important value to the world community. Time will tell as Taiwan continues to strive through adversity.