ISSUE 35                                                                                       April 16, 2020
Taiwan Weekly
Reliable report and analysis of the most important issues in Taiwan
In This Issue
● This Week in Taiwan: 
Other Important Events This Week


WHO Director-General and Taiwan Exchange Accusations
Director-General Tedros Adhanom of the World Health Organization (WHO) claimed attacks by Taiwan.
(Photo from: China Times)
Featured News
Tedros Claims Attacked by Taiwan, Foreign Ministry Condemns, Demands Apology

China Times, April 9, 2020


Director-General Tedros Adhanom of the World Health Organization (WHO) has called out Taiwan for continuously attacking him, claiming that he has been a victim of racial discrimination. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly protested and expressed disappointment by the groundless comments of Tedros.


In a press release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned that Tedros’ groundless accusation has seriously misled the world and, regarding this, would like to express strong discontent, regret, and protest. The Ministry stated that as a mature and highly democratic country, Taiwan in no way encouraged its citizens to make personal attacks towards Tedros and would not make any racially discriminatory remarks.


The press release also said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shares the sentiment of Tedros being discriminated against because the 23 million people of Taiwan are also severely discriminated by the political environment of the global health system. Therefore, the Ministry condemns any form of discrimination and unfairness and had reminded individuals and international groups who support Taiwan to join the WHO to act in a rational manner in urging the WHO to assist Taiwan’s full participation in the international medical and epidemic prevention system.


As for the Internet users with unknown identities and nationalities on the Internet, who have criticized Tedros’ performance in handling the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, their personal remarks have nothing to do with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and is not a matter that the Ministry can control.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also mentioned that when taking measures responding to the pandemic, Tedros, leader of the most important international health organization, should accept the rational supervision of citizens of the world. Tedros’ groundless accusations towards Taiwan are not only inconsistent with the facts but also cause serious harm to our government and people. Such defamation is extremely irresponsible. The government asked Tedros to immediately correct the unfounded allegations and apologize to Taiwan.


In addition, as the top leader of the WHO, Tedros should welcome participation by all parties in order to achieve the goal of "unity is strength." Taiwan feels deeply disappointed that he not only is excluding Taiwan but are even spreading rumors about Taiwan, without looking into any evidence. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called upon Tedros to put aside political prejudice, return to an impartial and professional position, invite Taiwan to fully participate in all meetings and mechanisms to combat the new epidemic, and resume invitation for Taiwan to participate as an observer in the World Health Assembly, in order to protect the health and well-being of people in Taiwan and around the world.


Featured Editorial
Foreign Minister Joseph Wu personally signed multiple Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweets criticizing the WHO.
(Photo from: China Times)

Foreign Minister Must Not Turn into Netizen

United Daily News, April 11, 2020


While Director-General Tedros Adhanom of the World Health Organization (WHO) responded to U.S. President Donald Trump's denouncement, he also strongly criticized Taiwan for three minutes, obviously losing his composure.  In response to his accusation, President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her protest and at the same time extended invitation to him to visit Taiwan, which was a wise move. Just as Taiwan is eager to join the WHO, and the international community has been impressed by Taiwan’s epidemic prevention capacity, at the same time Taiwan’s netizens launched attacks on Mr. Tedros and went unchecked, and the result may be counterproductive.


Mr. Tedros is somewhat biased in his approach, but the attacks on him by Taiwanese netizens are equally if not more repellent.  Some people called him nigger, dead nigga; his entry on Wikipedia was added the slur "Chinese pig," and some people called him "Beijing pooch", all are to the point of hate speech.


The biggest problem lies in the racial attack.  After Mr. Tedros complained about discrimination, many African leaders immediately spoke in solidarity with him and approved his contribution.  If internet haters in Taiwan continue cyber-bullying Mr. Tedros based on his skin color, they will not win the support of any African countries.


Not only netizens, but the entire government statements have recently taken a netizen-oriented leaning.  Last year, President Tsai frequently "found ammunition" due to various factors and that enabled her to respond to relevant issues with heated remarks, which achieved some populist effect in Taiwan. Government officials subsequently swarmed to cater to netizens’ penchant for spicy words. In his attack on Mr. Tedros, Office of the President Spokesman Alex Huang chided that Mr. Tedros "had Wuhan encephalitis" and "should take his temperature," and Shieh Jhy-Wey, Taiwan’s representative in Germany, went even lower to make fun of him by mocking the pronunciation of Mr. Tedros’ name in Taiwanese vernacular : "tan de”  “sai?" (The dropped word “sai” means “shit” in Taiwanese, alluding to his suffering from a diarrhea.)


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also frequently taunted Tedros, and even Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lo Chih-cheng questioned Foreign Minister Joseph Wu’s tweet style for this and considered it inappropriate. Minister Wu replied that such personalized speeches were popular at home and abroad, seemingly quite delighted.


However, in the event that the foreign minister becomes a netizen, does it help Taiwan to join the World Health Assembly?  After all, such a letter of invitation has to be issued by Mr. Tedros!



Featured Editorial

What Can Taiwan Learn from Japan and South Korea?

United Daily News Editorial, April 11, 2020


China’s Wuhan lifted the city-wide quarantine on April 8, and Japan announced on the same day the first in history a decree of emergency that seven heavily populated cities including Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka would enter into soft isolation for a month. This emergency decree declared by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is not mandatory and carries no fines; the implementation depends on the self-restraint of the Japanese people. Recently the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Japan has nearly doubled,. No wonder Japanese opposition parties blasted the Abe administration that the emergency decree was declared too late.


During the early stages of the epidemic, in order to ensure the timely holdings of the Tokyo Olympics and to avoid impacts on domestic economy, the Abe government adopted a calm policy of epidemic prevention by using delaying tactics. The government ordered that testing is needed only if the patient had fever four days in a roll, so the number of tests in Japan was far lower than that of other countries. For border control, except for bans on people from China and certain areas of South Korea, Japan opened borders to people from all other countries. Only until last week when it was confirmed that the Tokyo Olympics would be delayed, did the Japanese government ban entries of travelers from 73 nations, and those who are admitted are subject to a 14-day quarantine. After conducting expanded testing recently, the daily confirmed cases in Japan have frequently broken record; there have been 300 to 400 new cases daily, and the number of accumulated cases has almost reached 5,000. It is estimated that Japan’s confirmed cases would exceed 10,000 in two weeks, and the epidemic seems to be gradually out of control.


To contrast with Japan was the widespread cluster infections caused by the large-scale gatherings of the believers of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in South Korea. In early March, South Korea, Italy, and Iran were the three most infected countries. However, without stoppages of work and city isolations, South Korea was able to overcome the chaotic peak period and rapidly controlled the epidemic in half a month. Until now the number of accumulated confirmed cases in South Korea is 10,040 and the new cases are 20 to 30 daily, fewer than a tenth of those in Japan. Korea’s success in controlling the epidemic has become a model for the international community.


How can South Korea become a model from a country that had lost control of the epidemic? First, South Korea adopted the proactive strategy of expanded testing and early treatments. In the beginning, South Korea thoroughly tested 200,000 believers of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus. The government also established a “Drive-Thru” testing mechanism and set up more than 600 testing stations nationwide. People could be tested within 10 minutes without leaving their vehicles, and the results will be notified by mobile app in 24 hours. This “Drive-Thru” measure can conduct 20,000 tests daily. While large-scale testing might increase the number of confirmed cases in a short span, they could quickly separate the infected from the healthy people so that the virus will not spread.


Second, South Korea uses “big data” technology and transparent information to manage the epidemic. To avoid repeating the collective panic during the MERS epidemic in 2015 caused by non-transparency of information, the Korean government quickly created a new coronavirus mobile app for the public to download. The app shows the number of confirmed cases nearby and displays the tracks of the patients, the clinics they had visited, and the facilities they had used. In addition, the epidemic prevention agencies have the video footages of the confirmed patients and their credit card records. Although these measures might infringe upon personal privacy, their primary purpose is to prevent any crack on the epidemic prevention battle lines.


By using expanded testing and technological epidemic prevention, South Korea has become the only country in the world that has quickly reduced the number of daily confirmed cases from over 1,000 to fewer than 50 within a month. Even U.S. President Donald Trump, who is in a dire situation, said that he would learn from the South Korean model. 


Comparing with the situation in Taiwan, although we have kept the number of infected cases to a minimum, we did it by adopting strict border control and discriminatory measures. Because of this, while many Taiwanese people stranded in Wuhan are not able to return home until now, many other Taiwanese who carried the virus could enter Taiwan from Europe and the United States easily. This is very unfair. Furthermore, while the government boasts technological epidemic prevention, there are still long waiting lines for purchasing masks, and many local pharmacies have refused to sell masks. More questionably, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has been ambiguous about the movements and locations of the confirmed patients so as to obstruct the public’s right to know. For example, when a hostess of a club has become a confirmed case, the CECC had even said that she was merely a stay-at-home woman with simple lifestyle. How can this kind of careless attitude fight the cunning virus? The government is intentionally reducing the number of tests, as a result, there are infected cases that should have been tested but were not tested and infected cases were confirmed only after the quarantine had ended. These instances show that the government’s measures are self-deceiving.


Japan’s calm strategy clearly was not as good as Korea’s proactive measures. To contrast the strategies of Japan and South Korea, Taiwan should be more transparent, use more technological tools, and be more proactive in testing.



 This Week in Taiwan
Father Giuseppe Didone, an Italian native, appealed to Taiwanese society to help his hometown. He successfully raised NT$150 million (about US$5 million) in six days.
(Photo from: United Daily News)

April 6: To prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic after the Qingming Festival holiday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced that passengers must wear face masks within the public transportation system. Taxi passengers must also wear masks throughout the ride; otherwise, the driver may refuse the passenger. The maximum fine for not wearing a mask is NT$15,000 (about US$500).

April 7: Security concerns related to the video-conferencing software Zoom have been raised, including transmission of meeting data and video to mainland China. The Executive Yuan notified all agencies not to use Zoom, and the Ministry of Education also banned schools at all levels from using Zoom for remote instruction. Zoom-related instructions on the Ministry of Education website were also removed. Schools were advised to switch to other software for remote instruction purposes.

April 7: Father Giuseppe Didone, who has served in Taiwan for nearly half a century, sought donations for his hometown in Italy where the coronavirus pandemic raged. In just six days, he received a donation of NT$150 million (about US$5 million). Many of the donation contributors were common people who were once helped by his Camillans with which Father Didone is affiliated. Father Didone ended fundraising and wrote an open letter thanking Taiwanese society for its love and support for Italy.

April 8: The activist group calling for the removal of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu submitted more than 377,000 valid petitions, well above the required threshold of 228,000. The Central Election Commission will hold a meeting on April 17 to deliberate. If confirmed, a recall election would be held two months after the announcement. This would also be the first recall election in Taiwan’s history to remove a special municipality mayor.

April 9: A female public relations employee at a night club in northern Taiwan was diagnosed positive for coronavirus. The CECC announced that all night clubs and dance studios in Taiwan would be temporarily closed, and resumption of business would depend upon how the pandemic develops. In addition, human traffic flow at landmarks, night markets, and temples would be regulated. Vendors and customers must wear masks and cancel food samples.

April 9: A male student of National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) was diagnosed positive (without symptoms) on March 8 for coronavirus and is the roommate of another confirmed case. Because of two confirmed cases, NTNU became the first university in Taiwan to close for two weeks.

Taiwan Weekly is a newsletter released every week by Fair Winds Foundation and Association of Foreign Relations that provides coverage and perspectives into the latest developments in Taiwan.

The conclusions and recommendations of any Taiwan Weekly article are solely those of its author(s), and do not reflect the views of the institutions that publish the newsletter.

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