US Ambassador to UN Praises Taiwan’s Efforts in Curbing Pandemic

US Ambassador to UN Praises Taiwan’s Efforts in Curbing Pandemic
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft (L) speaks to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen during a videoconference on Jan. 14, 2020. (Taiwan's Presidential Office)
Frank Fang

TAIPEI, Taiwan—U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft applauded Taiwan’s success in containing the spread of the CCP virus, during a videoconference with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen Thursday morning.

“We discussed the many ways Taiwan is a model for the world, as demonstrated by its success in fighting COVID-19 and all that Taiwan has to offer in the fields of health, technology & cutting-edge science,” Craft wrote on Twitter following her call with Tsai.

Craft added: “Unfortunately, Taiwan is unable to share those successes in @UN venues, including the World Health Assembly, as a result of PRC [People’s Republic of China] obstruction. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that more information, more transparency, is part of the answer.”

Beijing sees Taiwan as a part of its territory despite the fact that Taiwan is a de-facto independent state with its own military, constitution, and democratically-elected officials. It has repeatedly blocked the island state from participating in international organizations.

Craft was initially going to visit Taiwan for three days this week, but her planned trip was dropped after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled all travel due to transition efforts for the incoming Joe Biden administration.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, that originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December 2019. China was heavily criticized for its initial handling of the outbreak, as Beijing took the steps to silence whistleblower doctors who tried to warn the public about a new pneumonia disease on the Chinese social media.
Taiwan, after reporting its first infection case on Jan. 21 last year, has recorded a total of 842 COVID-19 cases, with seven deaths, as of Jan. 14. The island has a population of about 24 million and sits just 80 miles from mainland China.
Taiwan’s success in containing the virus has earned international accolades, as the island’s authorities have been promoting its so-called “Taiwan model” to stem the spread of the virus without resorting to tough lockdown measures. Schools and businesses have remained open as usual.

Beijing has prevented Taiwan from sharing its expertise by blocking the island from taking part in World Health Organization (WHO) meetings and its decision-making body, the World Health Assembly (WHA). Taiwan is currently not a WHO member.

Craft also spoke to Tsai about a number of other issues regarding Taiwan. According to a press release from Taiwan’s Presidential Office, the two had extensive talks on strengthening Taiwan-U.S. cooperation, shared economic values, and opportunities to exchange educational resources.

Tsai also expressed hope that Craft can still visit Taiwan in the future.

Among those also present in the videoconference were David Feith, deputy assistant secretary for Regional and Security Policy and the Multilateral Affairs at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs under the U.S. State Department; Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu; and William Brent Christensen, the Taipei Office’s director of the American Institute in Taiwan, which is the de-facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan.

On Jan. 14, at a daily press briefing, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused Craft of “interfering in China’s internal affairs” with her Twitter remarks.

Zhao also threatened that U.S. officials who made “wrong words and actions” with regards to Taiwan will “pay a heavy price.” 
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.