TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The case for Taiwan to be recognized as a country by the United States and by the rest of the world is stronger than ever and partly because of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Taiwan-based journalist Hilton Yip wrote in Foreign Policy Friday (May 8).
While the island’s image has improved due to its successful actions against the virus and its donations of masks across the world, even if it does succeed in attending the World Health Assembly (WHA) or in joining other international organizations, it will still be only a guest rather than a full member, argues Yip.
He sees three reasons why the U.S. and the world should act now on Taiwan. China “has acted more like an erratic and unreliable dictatorship rather than a responsible world power, even during a global crisis that it helped cause,” he wrote. China refused to take responsibility for the pandemic, even launching a conspiracy theory about the U.S. military and sending defective medical equipment around the world.
A second element in Taiwan’s favor is China’s continuously aggressive military attitude toward the island and in the South China Sea. Beijing’s willingness to provoke a conflict “removes the main reason for not recognizing Taiwan as a country, which is to avoid provoking China and maintain peace,” Yip wrote.
He argued that recognizing Taiwan as a separate country might even help protect the island because it would make clear that the U.S. and the international community saw Taiwan separately from China.
Finally, the economic aftermath of the coronavirus crisis will weaken China’s economy and make other countries less dependent, thus making it harder for Beijing to threaten sanctions. “Hefty so-called financial aid and a massive appetite for commodity imports as well as the world’s largest consumer market and pool of overseas tourists” will continue to remain weak, undermining Beijing’s efforts to tempt or punish other countries, Yip wrote.