Senior envoy from Taiwan addresses French Senate for first time

Director of French Office in Taipei compares pandemic mindsets of French, Taiwanese citizens

Wu Chih-chung (second right) represents Taiwan at French Senate hearing Sept. 9. 

Wu Chih-chung (second right) represents Taiwan at French Senate hearing Sept. 9.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwanese envoy to Paris, Wu Chih-chung (吳志中), on Wednesday (Sept. 9) became Taiwan's first senior representative to speak at a French Senate hearing.

Wu was invited to a session of a special Senate committee to discuss Taiwan's success in containing the spread of coronavirus. The committee was created in July in response to the COVID-19 crisis and has convened nine hearings attended by 37 experts, including local and international medical authorities, frontline health workers, and government officials, according to UDN.

Wu described the invitation as "historic" and said it shows how much closer Taiwan and France have become since the pandemic began. He said Taiwan's pandemic efforts have paid off diplomatically and that he was honored to represent the country for this special occasion.

During the hearing, Wu broke down Taiwan's anti-epidemic strategy into six major components: experiences learned from the 2003 SARS pandemic, the country's immediate warning to the World Health Organization and suspension of Wuhan flights, the Central Epidemic Command Center's (CEEC) high efficiency, increased face mask production, transparent policies and public trust in the government, and the use of a mobile phone-based "electronic fence" to track individuals under quarantine.

French Office in Taipei Director Jean-François Casabonne-Masonnave, who also attended the hearing, pointed out that the two pillars of Taiwan's pandemic success have been its advance preparation and mutual trust between the government and its citizens. He said the CECC's regular press conferences have also contributed to Taiwanese support of government policies.

Casabonne-Masonnave noted that Taiwan has been manufacturing medical masks since January in collaboration with local businesses. He emphasized that the country's success is not a miracle but the result of prudence.

The French representative in Taiwan also compared the mindsets of the two nations' citizens. He said Taiwanese put on masks to protect the public, while the French see them as barriers to the outside world.

Casabonne-Masonnave stressed that Taiwanese want to protect others as much as themselves but that many people in France only care about themselves. He further stated that there is no personal strategy in the face of the pandemic and that everyone must work together to achieve promising results.

In a post-hearing interview, French Senator Catherine Deroche hailed Taiwan as a model and said the French government had contradicted itself after calling face masks ineffective at the start of the pandemic. She said Taiwan's mask culture is important and that it should be included in the WHO's agenda, reported CNA.

Taiwanese envoy shares anti-epidemic measures at French Senate hearing Sept. 9. (CNA photo)