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China, Taiwan, and SARS

From a story yesterday in the Wall Street Journal:

China on Saturday agreed to let the World Health Organization visit Taiwan in its fight against severe acute respiratory syndrome, putting aside politics after reports the island's number of SARS cases has doubled in a week.

China didn't explain its decision, but the official Xinhua News Agency quoted a Ministry of Health spokesman, Liu Peilong, as saying Friday that the mainland was monitoring the epidemic's development in Taiwan and was "concerned about the health and well-being" of the people. The report didn't give any other details...

China, where at least 190 people have died from SARS, has been accused of not doing enough to fight SARS and its change toward Taiwan may have been part of its recent effort to appear more cooperative. China earlier rejected direct WHO help for the island and blocked its efforts to join the United Nation agency.

What wasn't clear from either this story or a story on the same topic in the New York Times -- and what I want to know -- is exactly how China has been blocking Taiwan's requests for assistance. How is it that one country can disallow a UN agency from helping another country, absent a permanent Security Council member vetoing a Security Council resolution?

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Comments

To Frank Boosman:

Before you make judgement, please do a research on Taiwan and China relationship. And it will probably show what there is something called "one China policy" that major countries in the world recognize. Taiwan has been trying to gain independence without acknowledgement of the Chinese government and concensus of majority of Chinese. However, its status remains disputable territory instead of a sovereign state. Please read your Asian history book before you make any judgement.

Though I'm no expert, I think I know a little about the relationship between China and Taiwan, and I disagree with your interpretation of it.

Having said that, for the sake of discussion, let's give you the benefit of the doubt. Let's say that Taiwan is a renegade province wrongly trying to declare its independence from China. Even given this, how do you justify China's earlier blocking of direct WHO help for Taiwan to fight SARS?

If China is so intent on a "One China" policy, then why have they not done anything for the island of Taiwan? What benefit would Taiwan have to be under the "One China Policy"? The mainland has done nothing to benefit Taiwan. Basically Taiwan has survived on their own for over 50 years and has flourished and excelled in this environment on their own. Sovereign state or not.

This is just one example of many incidents that have occurred between the mainland and Taiwan: A few years back in September, 1999, when there were a series of earthquakes in Taiwan that devastated the island. International assistance flooded in to offer help. Then the mainland stepped in and blocked the distribution of this assistance.

"... Following reports that Beijing had obliged foreign countries to seek its blessing when sending aid and relief teams to Taiwan, the Taiwanese Foreign Minister, Jason Hu, said China was "looting a burning house". ..."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/459327.stm

This initially complicated problems...
" ... Patrick Hsu, the Taiwan Red Cross' Deputy Secretary-General, said that it all started when the president of the U.S. Red Cross told U.S. media that donations for Taiwan's earthquake relief should be sent to China.... "
http://www.taiwanheadlines.gov.tw/881015/881015s3-1.htm

In the end, China sent this token amount of assistance...
" ...China's Red Cross said it had offered its Taiwan counterpart $100,000 in cash and relief goods worth 500,000 yuan ($60,000)... "
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/453309.stm

If they want to embrace their fellow countrymen, what do they have to offer that would make them want to be embraced by the mainland? The mainland has offered assistance, but this petty amount is nothing and how low should Taiwan bow down to accept the meager scrapes that the mainland tosses out. Taiwan on the other hand has offered millions to the mainland in assistance when there have been natural disasters there. So it comes to no surprise at all when the mainland tries to block aide to Taiwan, especially now during the SARS epidemic.

The only reason that major countries in the world recognize the "One China Policy is because of the bullying tactics of the mainland threatening to cut off support or trade if this is not recognized. The US is one of a few countries that understands that the "One China Policy" offers nothing and continues to protect Taiwan with weapon sales and also their democratic way of life. No wonder the mainland didn't back the liberation of Iraq, the same things are occurring there with Falun Gong. Taiwan is to Kuwait as China is to Iraq.

How can you have a "One China Policy" with two different government systems, isn't there a flaw there? What sort of freedoms do those in Hong Kong now have? What Asian history books did you read, the ones written in the mainland on with the bright red covers? The original government that ended the dynasty in 1911 moved its capital to Taipei in 1949 for the time being. The day will come when Taiwan, the seat of the original government, will regain power in the mainland and rule it under the "One China Policy".

Who needs enemies when you have the mainland as the fatherland...

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