Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Akio Yaita

【#654】China Keeps Bullying Taiwan even amid Disaster

Akio Yaita / 2020.02.05 (Wed)

February 3, 2020

A novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic originating from the central Chinese city of Wuhan is spreading fast. As the epidemic has expanded within China, multiple cities have effectively been shut down with transportation networks closed, exerting great influence on civic life. The epidemic has reached China’s neighbors including Japan.

China’s Xi Jinping regime, even though required to do its best to tackle the new pneumonia epidemic, has given priority to the state’s dignity rather than human lives and taken advantage of the disaster for bullying Taiwan under its “One China” policy.

Taiwan excluded from emergency WHO meeting

First, China has exerted pressure on the World Health Organization’s pro-Beijing Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to thoroughly exclude Taiwan from the international organization. Tedros, a former Ethiopian foreign minister, is known as a man who cannot say no to China because Ethiopia received massive economic aid from China when he was in his country. When the WHO convened an emergency meeting in Geneva on January 22 and 23, Taiwan was the only country/region that failed to be invited among those where people were confirmed infected with the novel coronavirus. As a result, infection information in other countries would not reach Taiwan and the international community would take relevant measures while ignoring information or opinions from Taiwan. The result would represent a grave situation.

Second, in Wuhan that has been shut down since January 23, about 400 Taiwanese reportedly stayed as of February 2. Beijing has allowed the United States, Japan and some other countries to charter flights to take their respective citizens back home from Wuhan, while rejecting Taipei’s request for such flights. The reason for the rejection may be that Taiwan is part of China and should be treated in the same way as Chinese provinces. Taipei is still negotiating the matter with Beijing.

China has used to politically exploiting a big disaster to trivialize Taiwan. One such event came some two decades ago. One day after a massive earthquake killed more than 2,000 people in central Taiwan on September 21, 1999, Red Cross Society of China Secretary General Sun Aiming interrupted the international community’s assistance to Taiwan by claiming that assistance to Taiwan should be approved by the Red Cross Society of China because Taiwan was part of China.

At the same time, Chinese embassies in foreign countries opened accounts for assistance to earthquake-hit Taiwan province and called for assistance. Confusion came as the accounts were similar to those opened by Taiwanese diplomatic missions abroad to collet aid money.

Don’t be indifferent to China’s tyranny

China’s bullying of Taiwan has been successful to some extent. From late January to early February, such countries as Italy and Vietnam suspended direct flights to Taiwan as well as China as part of preventive measures against infection, considering Taiwan as part of China. Taipei strongly protested the suspension, claiming that the measure is a grave mistake because Taiwan is not part of People’s Republic of China.

What the Japanese government should do now is to strongly support Taiwan’s accession to the WHO instead of being indifferent to China’s tyranny, while helping China to tackle the new pneumonia epidemic.

Akio Yaita is a deputy foreign news editor at The Sankei Shimbun.