Taiwan 'confident' of India's support for World Health Assembly: Envoy Chung-Kwang Tien

WION New Delhi, India May 16, 2020, 03.40 PM(IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

Ambassador Chung-Kwang Tien, representative of Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India Photograph:( WION )

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Ambassador Chung-Kwang Tien lauded Indian Government's "extraordinary efforts" in curtailing the spread of COVID-19 and expressed "strong confidence" that New Delhi will prevail over the challenges and restore momentum and economic growth.

Taiwan's envoy to India, Chung-Kwang Tien, has said that "valued partner" India will "appreciate Taiwan's rights" in participation at the World Health Assembly meet which is the "shared aspiration of the people of Taiwan".

Speaking exclusively to our diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal, Ambassador Chung-Kwang Tien lauded Indian Government's "extraordinary efforts" in curtailing the spread of COVID-19 and expressed "strong confidence" that New Delhi will prevail over the challenges and restore momentum and economic growth.

World Health Organisation's global health will be held on Monday virtually but China is blocking Taiwan's participation and a vote will take place on the latter's participation.

WION: What model did Taiwan use to defeat COVID-19?

Chung-Kwang Tien: Preemptive actions taken by the government are key measures to fight this unprecedented disease effectively. On December 31, 2019 the same day China notified the World Health Organization that it had several cases of an unknown pneumonia, R.O.C. Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control immediately ordered inspections of passengers arriving on flights from Wuhan.

A team of experts was quickly dispatched to the mainland on a fact-finding mission on January 12. Shortly after the team returned, Taiwan began requiring hospitals to test for and report cases. That helped the government identify those infected, trace their contacts and isolate everyone involved, preventing the virus from spreading to the community.

In addition, Taiwan has established a comprehensive national disease prevention mechanism: this includes digitized disease monitoring systems, stringent border quarantine measures, extensive community-based countermeasures, advanced medical preparedness, an abundant stock of preventive medical appliances and resources, concise guidelines and information for the reference of the general public, and annual disease prevention and control drills.

Despite Taiwan’s proximity to China, and the high frequency of people to people contacts, we still have kept our confirmed cases to under 500, about 90 per cent of which are imported. This demonstrates that we are effectively controlling the epidemic.

WION: How is Taiwan helping India with its experience?

Chung-Kwang Tien: With India have already implemented several cooperations of how we are doing. First, on February 20, researchers at Academia Sinica announced they had synthesized over 100 milligrams of Remdesivir, an experimental treatment for COVID-19, to 97 per cent purity.

It took the team, which includes two members from India, just two weeks. Second is how Taiwan’s medical institutions have been sharing related information. On April 2 and 14, there was Taiwan-India Webinars on COVID-19, over 14,000 healthcare workers in India benefited from these webinars. Taiwan’s physicians shared their experience fighting the pandemic, including testing methods, treatments, approaches to containing infection, and measures concerning masks.

Third, the Government of Taiwan has already provided one million face masks to India to help protect frontline medical personnel.

The masks were brought to India by a special chartered flight on 4 May 2020.The donation of these masks was handed over these masks to Neel Kamal Singh, Deputy Secretary General of Indian Red Cross Society, at a hand-over ceremony on Friday, 8 May 2020.

India is an important and valued partner to Taiwan. Indian Government has made extraordinary efforts in curtailing the spread of COVID-19. I have strong confidence that India will prevail over the challenges and restore momentum and economic growth.

WION: WHO meet is about the begin, how hopeful are you that Taiwan will participate?

Chung-Kwang Tien: Participating in WHO is the common aspiration of all citizens of Taiwan. The persistent and collective efforts of Taiwan’s government and civil society along with international support and media attention for Taiwan’s campaign have increased considerably over the years.

I would like to expresses sincere appreciation for the unprecedented level of support extended to Taiwan’s campaign for participation in the World Health Organization by diplomatic allies and like-minded nations.

Among like-minded partners, the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Belgium has spoken up in favour of Taiwan or echoed its appeal for participation by stressing the importance of inclusiveness and ensuring the non-existence of gaps in the global disease prevention network, particularly this year when Taiwan has shown the world how we fight against the Covid-19 successfully.

Although the current situation is still difficult of being invited to participate in the WHA, our government will never give up and will continue to strive to the last moment with the support of our diplomatic allies and like-minded countries.

WION: What are Taiwn's expectations from India on WHO meet? Has it spoken to Indian government about backing it at the meet? How would you like India to vote?

Chung-Kwang Tien: We are glad to see India is going to take over the Chair of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization after its annual meeting later this month.

Taiwan cherishes the valuable relations with Government of India and its people and hopes that the relations between the two countries will keep moving forward.

It is the shared aspiration of the people of Taiwan to participate in WHO, and the Taiwan government will continue to strive to achieve this important objective.

The Covid-19 situation remains dynamic, and being unable to participate in WHO seriously, affects Taiwan’s ability to obtain complete and timely information on the virus and on epidemic prevention and to contribute our experience with the countries which have suffered the most under the current devastating situation.

WHO should recognize the seriousness of the situation and allow Taiwan’s full participation as soon as possible.

India has emerged as a strong power regionally and internationally, with the high standard of democracy, human rights and freedom. We are certain India will fairly perform her duty as the chair of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization.

We are also confident that, given that Taiwan has received a tremendous amount of support from the general public, scholars and the media lately in India, India Government will appreciate Taiwan's rights in this direction.

WION: Can any particular country or organization be held responsible for this global crisis?

Chung-Kwang Tien: How to fight the disease collectively needs to put the international efforts together, however, COVID-19 is a brand new viral disease fraught with unknowns.

Therefore, the exchange of up-to-the-minute information is of critical importance for effective epidemic prevention and mitigation. Taiwan would very much like to play her role in this historical challenge to safeguard international health and humanity.