TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday (Nov. 10) heaped praise on the World Health Organization (WHO) for excluding Taiwan from the resumed session of the World Health Assembly (WHA), alleging Beijing had been providing information about the Wuhan coronavirus to the "Taiwan region" since the beginning of the pandemic.
As was the case with the first session of the 73rd WHA in May, Taiwan is being excluded from the session taking place from Nov. 9 to 14, despite its extraordinary handling of the outbreak. On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) thanked the WHA General Committee for refusing to invite Taiwan to take part as an observer.
Wang boasted the committee's decision demonstrates that the "one-China principle is unshakable" and claimed that pursuing such "unpopular Taiwan-related proposals is bound to fail." Wang then made the disingenuous claim that the communist regime places "high importance to the health and well-being of our Taiwan compatriots."
Wang failed to explain how the well-being of such "compatriots" is served by excluding them from the most important meeting of health experts in the world as the worst pandemic in over 100 years rages. He then made the patently false claim that since the epidemic began in Wuhan, the Chinese government has given "the Taiwan region the latest information updates on prevention and control multiple times."
The spokesperson then spoke of amorphous "arrangments for Taiwan's participation in global health affairs." As an example, he cited the "International Health Regulations Contact Point," apparently in reference to the extant International Health Regulations (IHR) focal points.
He bragged that the channel is providing "unimpeded information exchange with the WHO and other countries." In reality, when reports of atypical pneumonia cases in Wuhan started to stream in, Taiwan on Dec. 31 of last year contacted the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention as well as a WHO IHR focal point to clarify whether human-to-human transmission was occurring in Wuhan.
However, the WHO only responded with a short message stating that Taiwan's information would be "forwarded to expert colleagues," and China merely issued a press release. As a result, Taiwan was unable to receive confirmation through either the WHO or Chinese channels that human-to-human transmission was taking place.
Therefore, the government went ahead and launched enhanced border control and quarantine measures "based on the assumption that human-to-human transmission was in fact occurring," according to the CDC. On Jan. 20, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) was activated, with Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) at the helm.
Steps taken by the CECC from that day forward have been key in eliminating local coronavirus infections in Taiwan for 213 days and counting. Examples include canceling entry permits for tourists from Wuhan, implementing mandatory quarantines for all visitors, imposing a total ban on foreign travelers, setting up a name-based mask rationing system, using cellphone data to enforce quarantines, and carrying out extensive contact tracing.