Trump administration applies heat on WHO, boosts support for Taiwan

by WorldTribune Staff, May 20, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday threatened to permanently cut off funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) and revoke U.S. membership if the UN organization doesn’t make changes meant to curb what he called its pro-China bias.

In a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump said the organization has shown an “alarming lack of independence” from Beijing and failed to adequately respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said China’s ‘spiteful action to silence Taiwan exposes the emptiness of its claims to want transparency and international cooperation to fight the pandemic.’ / photo

Trump’s letter came as WHO members participated in the World Health Assembly on May 18-19. The Assembly is the decision-making body of the WHO. The coronavirus pandemic was the main topic of discussion.

At China’s behest, Taiwan was excluded from the World Health Assembly. Taiwan has been widely recognized as having one of the world’s top coronavirus prevention strategies.

“The United States condemns Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Assembly. At a time when the world continues to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, we need multilateral institutions to deliver on their stated missions and to serve the interests of all member states, not to play politics while lives are at stake,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on May 18.

“No one disputes that Taiwan has mounted one of the world’s most successful efforts to contain the pandemic to date, despite its close proximity to the original outbreak in Wuhan, China. This should not be a surprise. Transparent, vibrant, and innovative democracies like Taiwan always respond faster and more effectively to pandemics than do authoritarian regimes,” Pompeo said.

Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping addressed the World Health Assembly, and observers said Xi sought to transform the perception of the COVID-19 pandemic from “China made” to a global health emergency which “caught the world by surprise.”

“Under this narrative China is a victim, in no way responsible for the damages caused to the world,” Valérie Niquet wrote for The Diplomat.

Pompeo noted that WHO’s Director-General Tedros “had every legal power and precedent to include Taiwan in WHA’s proceedings. Yet, he instead chose not to invite Taiwan under pressure from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Director-General’s lack of independence deprives the Assembly of Taiwan’s renowned scientific expertise on pandemic disease, and further damages the WHO’s credibility and effectiveness at a time when the world needs it the most.”

Related: China follows up reconnaissance of Taiwan’s Pratas islands with threat, May 19, 2020

China’s “spiteful action to silence Taiwan exposes the emptiness of its claims to want transparency and international cooperation to fight the pandemic, and makes the difference between China and Taiwan ever more stark,” Pompeo said. “Taiwan is a model world citizen, while the PRC continues to withhold vital information about the virus and its origins, deny access to their scientists and relevant facilities, censor discussion of the pandemic within China and on Chinese social media properties, and casts blame widely and recklessly.”

Meanwhile, Pompeo on May 14 noted that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC) announced that it intends to invest $12 billion in the state of Arizona starting in 2021. The investment is to develop a state-of-the-art five nanometer semiconductor fabrication foundry.

“The TSMC deal is a game changer for the U.S. semiconductor industry that will bolster American national security and our economic prosperity,” Pompeo said.

“TSMC’s announcement comes at a critical juncture, when China is competing to dominate cutting-edge technology and control critical industries,” Pompeo added. “The TSMC facility in Arizona will increase U.S. economic independence, bolster our safety and competitiveness, and strengthen our leadership in high-tech manufacturing. This historic deal also strengthens our relationship with Taiwan, a vibrant democracy and force for good in the world.”

TSMC’s commitment means that high-tech chips “will be Made in America once again — the nation where the semiconductor industry was invented,” Pompeo said. “These chips will power everything from artificial intelligence to 5G base stations to F-35s.”

TSMC’s investment “will create thousands of highly-skilled American jobs and tens of thousands more jobs across the entire supply chain for years to come,” Pompeo said. “The facility will promote the creation of thriving high-skilled sub-industries, known as clusters, that will help ensure American leadership in technologies of the future. It will also spur cutting-edge research and development by American universities and companies.”

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