By demonstrating the advantages of being a stable, well-governed and democratic nation, Taiwan has emerged as a geopolitical winner during the coronavirus crisis.
Geopolitical Futures in a new report titled, “A Good Year for Taiwan,” outlines how the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) efforts to “win Taiwan without going to war is failing.” Compared to the CCP’s authoritarian governance model of managing a crisis, Taiwan demonstrated that transparency, free flow of information, and voluntary participation in a civil society are more advantageous.
Twelve months ago, mainland China expected President Tsai Ing-wen’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to be trounced by Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu and his pro-Beijing Kuomintang (KMT) party in Taiwan’s January elections.
Under the motto of “Taiwan safe, people rich,” the KMT held a 20-point lead in the polls last summer with promises to deepen the cross-strait “1992 Consensus” by sacrificing sovereignty in favor of economic rewards from greater mainland engagement.
But a series of high-profile scandals that exposed the deep CCP ties with Taiwanese businesses and media outlets, coupled with last year’s Hong Kong protests and brutal CCP crackdowns, caused a reversal of KMT support. President Tsai won a re-election landslide with 57.1 percent of the vote and her DPP party retained its national legislature majority in Jan. 11 elections.
In the final days before the election, mainland China was covertly dealing with exponential growth of a new and highly infectious coronavirus. But rather than share detailed information with its own citizens and the global community, China first called it a “pneumonia of unclear cause,” even though researchers had mapped the new coronavirus genome by Jan. 2. In the most egregious action, the CCP and Wuhan Health Commission insisted that there were no new cases from Jan. 11-17.
Foreign Policy magazine blamed China for the coronavirus, which was “caused in part by incompetent, malicious, and corrupt politicians.” The Dispatch reporter Danielle Pletka argued that Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s “prime concern was not lives at risk, or containment of the virus, but rather the nation’s and his reputation, place in the global supply chain and his grip on power.”
Taiwan, located just only 81 miles away from mainland China and receives 2.7 million mainland visitors a year, would seem most vulnerable to a devastating outbreak of what has come to be called “CCP virus.” But Taiwan has only recorded 252 coronavirus infections and just two deaths as of March 26, since the pandemic first began four months ago in central China.
Rather than following the CCP’s playbook of spreading disinformation to hide the origin and scale of the infection that allowed it to morph into a global pandemic, the Taiwan government contained the outbreak by acting swiftly and decisively. As soon as China announced it was dealing with a mysterious surge of pneumonia cases, Taipei started screening inbound passengers from the Wuhan, then banned arrivals within a month.
The government banned exports of critical medical supplies, rationed face masks to avoid hoarding, and mobilized the manufacturing sector to produce 10 million face masks a day. The democratically-elected government then initiated civic education to encourage adoption of public health best practices and increase personal hygiene.
Mandatory quarantines were quickly instituted for arrivals from coronavirus hot-spots and digital surveillance was activated to track suspected patients, rather than disrupting daily life and sowing panic, closing schools, and shuttering businesses. As a result, Taiwan kept a clear picture of the outbreak, maintained adequate resources to manage it, and generated widespread public support for its actions, according to Geopolitical Futures.
With popular support for President Tsai and her ruling DPP party’s management of the CCP virus crisis surging, the KMT was forced to question its pro-Beijing slant. On March 7, the KMT elected the relatively youthful 48-year-old legislator Johnny Chiang who has indicated he is prepared to scrap the so-called “1992 Consensus” with the mainland.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Chriss Street is an expert in macroeconomics, technology, and national security. He has served as CEO of several companies and is an active writer with more than 1,500 publications. He also regularly provides strategy lectures to graduate students at top Southern California universities.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.