SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

John Chuan-Tiong Lim “Isolated Taiwan” got “Complete Victory” over Tedros”

On April 8, Tedros Adhanam, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) has made unprecedented criticism against Taiwan at a press briefing, in a public place. He criticized that Taiwan criticized him personally and made racial discrimination. In December last year, Taiwan has warned possibility of “human-to-human” infection of coronavirus, but the WHO ignored it. World opinion doubted the WHO’s ignorance and became complicated that led to “Unexpected War” between “Tedros vs. Taiwan”. 



At this “Unequal War”, which Tedros made positively, he lacked in strategic thought and effective measures. On the other hand, Taiwan maneuvered cleverly utilizing Tedros’s mistake (turning a disadvantage into an advantage) and has turned to worldwide appealing offensively saying “Taiwan_Can_Help (the world)” utilizing their successful experience in prevention of epidemics. They revealed themselves on the worldwide stage most for the last several decades. At the pandemic time, their excellence in prevention of epidemics were watched with keen interest by the rest of the world. They have been trying to open the door of the WHO and succeeded in making up favorable circumstances of the world opinion.



” Four Strategic Mistakes” by Tedros in his criticism against Taiwan

Needless to say, WHO is the most important international organization amid pandemic of COVID-19. Director Tedros expressed his “pro-China” opinion many times at the early stage of the epidemics. We can say that his “wrong judgement” on epidemics were very remarkable and he has made denial statements about human-to-human infection on January 14. It goes without saying that he has been feeling a lot of pressure from such criticism of international opinions.



It is easy to understand that Tedros has tried his counter attack at the WHO press briefing because he could not endure any more. Critical international opinions toward him were piling up gradually and he made a lot of mistakes, at his problem settings, in contents, object, timing and judgement of situations which successful strategists might not make. He also lost his supports which take criticism from international opinions. On the contrary, he could not get possible effect but has given a chance of “a come-from-behind victory” to Taiwan.



How did Tedros make mistakes concretely?

1) There is no evidence in his criticism. In any kind of “counterattack”, the most basic counter measure is an argument based on ample evidence. Tedros just censured “everything came from Taiwan” saying “insult myself”, “call me “colored” using discriminative saying”. Tedros also said “the Foreign Department of Taiwan know some people made personal attack on myself and do not deny it”. But, he did not show any evidence.


2) His saying was unsuitable for such occasion. He mixed up public and private matters and utilized public organization for his private use. Actually, he began to talk suddenly at the usual WHO press briefing about personal attack against him. It gave the world an impression that he lost an air of dignity as a leader of international organization.


3) He mistook the timing also. In March, COVID-19 pandemic has spread in America and Europe day by day. Under such circumstances, dissatisfaction in the world against mistakes by Tedros is getting worse and worse. When Tedros criticized Taiwan by name, signature-collection campaign on inter-net for his resignation marked 750,000. Such movement cannot be said always the one because of the fact Taiwan took initiative. It is because Tedros has started his “counterattack” under disadvantageous situation for him. We can say it was possible to predict from the beginning.


4) Tedros made a mistake also in selection of target. Target of his counter attack was neither an individual nor an organization. Not a concrete case. His target was Taiwan itself as a political substance. Moreover, the reason of criticism was just “human discrimination” and it was very ambiguous. He has just wanted to recover the support of international opinions and the strategy was planned by himself and small group around him. But the target was the whole society. It was not impossible to predict such strong “counterattack”, if they insist such opinions under the poor grounds and evidences.



As expected, “counterattack” toward Tedros was a roar of anger “anti-Tedros” from the whole Taiwan and such roar became a beginning of the union of ruling parties, “Democratic Progressive Party” and opposition party “National Party “in Taiwan, toward the other countries in the world. And all the people, not only Taiwanese but foreign students in Taiwan also, protested under united efforts against criticism by Tedros which is “not truth”.



How did Taiwan get “complete victory” turning a disadvantage into an advantage?”

At that time, Taiwan has been achieving good results in prevention of epidemics and their medical technologies and innovation has been evaluated highly internationally. Democratic Progressive Party, taking this good chance, launched the “Taiwan_Can_Help” campaign and strengthened their international presence.



Foreign Department of Taiwan protested to Tedros immediately saying that “his criticism is buck-passing scape goating too much and he is irresponsible”. Taiwan President Ts’ai Ing_wen issued her statement on her Facebook that “Taiwan oppose any style of discriminations. We, Taiwanese, has been excluded in any style of international organization for a long time. So, we can understand people’s feelings which are discriminated and isolated better than anybody else. “It is just “turning a disadvantage into an advantage”. She also said that Taiwan want to shorten a distance between the WHO and Taiwan and expressed to Tedros to visit Taiwan by all means. In her statement, she also told, how Taiwan in the midst of being discriminated and isolated, has made efforts to keep their progress and contributed to international societies. National Party issued also their statement that the WHO leader should not blame, under groundless reasoning for it, the cause of criticism toward the WHO on Taiwan.



Amid a roar of “Anti-Tedros” by Taiwanese, fund-raising campaign “Letters to the World by Taiwanese”, by a You Tuber and a designer, has being attracted attention of the world. This campaign was carried on the New York Times first after “Criticism on Taiwan” by Tedros. The target amount by this campaign was NT$400,000. But it has reached to NT$1,900,000 immediately within fifteen hours after starting. This protest advertising was carried on the New York Times on April 14 and its message was “Who_can_help? Taiwan!” Taiwan emphasized that “when we were isolated, we chose unity”.



On April 17, when Taiwan donated face masks and other prevention goods to many countries, U.S. President Donald Trump criticized China again that China concealed the data of spread of the COVID-19 infection. He also pointed out that the WHO ignored the warning “human-to human infection” by Taiwan, which was made at the end of December, last year. In China, which should be the biggest supporter of Tedros, at that time, African people were receiving racial discrimination in Wuhan, China. Colored people in this area, regardless of being infected or not, were forced to be isolated. And, their passports were confiscated, and they were turned out of their homes or hotels sometimes. Under such circumstances, a lot of countries in Africa recalled their ambassadors to China and sent officials letters to Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of China. In those letters, they were watching closely on such circumstances and asked his explanation. 



On the other hand, the world recognized that Taiwan is very friendly to foreigners. Even if the relations between China and Taiwan seems to be unfriendly, all the students or tourists from main land evaluated friendly attitudes and politeness of Taiwan society. Under such circumstances, Tedros directed his criticism toward Taiwan thoughtlessly by reason of “racial discrimination”. He did not anticipate repulsion would spread widely because Taiwan is not the member of the WHO, which shall be approved by the United Nations and lack in international positions. Tedros got the contrary effect.



Mistakes in the judgement by Tedros “Taiwan-criticism” resulted in big interests in Taiwan by the worldwide opinion. At present, European countries and Japan are expressing their supports that Taiwan can attend, as an observer, on the WHO general meeting in this May. Under such adversities, WHO had to evaluate officially on a press briefing on April 18, that Taiwan has made successful results in prevention of epidemics.



It all depends on an attitude of Beijing whether Taiwan can participate in the WHO.

Confused fight between Tedros and Taiwan this time gave Taiwan, which has been isolated from international societies for a long time because of sovereignty of China, a good timing of getting international interests and supports. From this reasoning, we can say Taiwan has got “Complete Victory”.



SGRA Kawaraban 630 in Japanese (Original)



John_Chuan-Tiong_Lim / Researcher of Japan Research Center (Taiwan), Head of Japan Research Center (Wuhan)



Translated by Kazuo Kawamura

English checked by Sabina Koirala