China blamed for lack of WHO sup­port for Tai­wan as epi­demic fears rise

The Washington Times Weekly - - International Perspective - By Bill Gertz

China is be­hind ef­forts within the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) to ex­clude Tai­wan, de­spite the grow­ing threat of Asian vi­ral epi­demics on the is­land, Tai­wan’s un­of­fi­cial am­bas­sador to the U.S. said on April 30.

“The Chi­nese side is at­tempt­ing to iso­late Tai­wan in­ter­na­tion­ally,” said Ji­aushieh Joseph Wu, who last month as­sumed the post of se­nior rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Tai­wan Eco­nomic and Cul­tural Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Of­fice, which rep­re­sents Tai­wan’s gov­ern­ment in the United States.

Mr. Wu told re­porters and edi­tors of The Wash­ing­ton Times that Tai­wan has tried to join the WHO for 10 years to bet­ter help its peo- ple fend off in­fec­tious dis­eases. How­ever, China has “de­cided to crank up” its pro­pa­ganda that Tai­wan is seek­ing to politi­cize the U.N. or­ga­ni­za­tion that mon­i­tors health and fights dis­eases around the world.

As a re­sult, the WHO has re­jected Tai­wan’s ap­peal for mem­ber­ship, say­ing Tai­wan it is not widely rec­og­nized as an in­de­pen­dent state. Tai­wan is rec­og­nized as the Repub­lic of China by sev­eral Caribbean and South Pa­cific na­tions. Both the Repub­lic of China, in Taipei, and the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China, in Bei­jing, have long claimed to be the le­git­i­mate gov­ern­ment of all China, and no na­tion has diplo­matic re­la­tions with both.

Tai­wan was hit with an epi­demic in 1998 that af­fected 3,000 peo­ple and killed 80, Mr. Wu said, and in 2003 the is­land was at­tacked by se­vere acute res­pi­ra­tory syn­drome (SARS) and the WHO ini­tially did not help it.

“It started to get out of hand,” Mr. Wu said of SARS. “That was a real threat against Tai­wan.”

Mr. Wu is a mem­ber of the rul­ing Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party and a for­mer head of the Main­land Af­fairs Coun­cil. He said he is wor­ried that a se­ries of vis­its to the main­land by lead­ers of the op­po­si­tion Kuom­intang may have re­sulted in a se­cret deal with Bei­jing on the is­land’s fu­ture af­ter its 2008 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. He did not pro­vide fur­ther de­tails.

Mr. Wu also said the bal­ance of mil­i­tary power be­tween the two Chi­nas is reach­ing a “turn­ing point” that has cre­ated new dan­gers for Tai­wan. China has de­ployed nearly 1,000 mis­siles and more than enough sub­marines to block­ade the is­land. China also is cut­ting into Tai­wan’s ad­van­tage in war­planes through de­ploy­ments of do­mes­tic F-10 fight­ers and im­ported Rus­sian Su-30s, he said.

“The Chi­nese side will prob­a­bly be able to mount about three to four waves of sat­u­rated of­fen­sive [mis­sile at­tacks] against Tai­wan,” Mr. Wu said. “Tai­wan is vul­ner­a­ble to mis­sile at­tacks.”

Tai­wan has only a small num­ber of U.S.-made Pa­triot mis­sile de­fenses and needs more ad­vanced sys­tems, he said. Mr. Wu de­clined to com­ment on re­ports that Tai­wan is de­vel­op­ing a long-range cruise mis­sile that could strike tar­gets inside China.

China would need 12 to 16 of its es­ti­mated 50 sub­marines to block­ade Tai­wan and crip­ple its econ­omy and so­cial sys­tem, he said, call­ing this “an­other tremen­dous threat to Tai­wan.”

Mr. Wu said that Tai­wan’s air force, made up of do­mes­tic jets, F16s and Mi­rage 2000 jets, still has a “qual­i­ta­tive edge” over China’s air force, but the gap is clos­ing. Al­though Tai­wan’s pi­lots are bet­ter­trained, China has matched Tai­wan in terms of air­craft weapons, he said. “So we are re­ly­ing on the hu­man fac­tor” to main­tain the edge, Mr. Wu said.

A de­fense-spend­ing bill that would buy sub­marines and anti- mis­sile sys­tems re­mains mired by pol­i­tics within the Tai­wanese leg­is­la­ture, Mr. Wu said.

Mr. Wu said he thinks po­lit­i­cal sup­port for Tai­wan from the U.S. gov­ern­ment will re­main strong, de­spite fluc­tu­a­tions over the years be­tween Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can ad­min­is­tra­tions. For ex­am­ple, the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion, de­spite its pro-Bei­jing poli­cies, dis­patched two air­craft car­ri­ers to Tai­wan as a show of sup­port for the is­land and stepped up mil­i­tary ex­changes, he said.

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