The Other China

While the Communist Party operates in deceit, censorship, and brutality, Taiwan offers a model for the rest of the world in the grips of a pandemic.


Photo by Wallpaper Cave

Taiwan has long considered itself separate from Communist China. the coronavirus outbreak has only accentuated the difference.

By Michael Taffe, North Allegheny Senior High School

The Chinese mainland and the island of Taiwan, to which the Chinese government lays claim, have long had a troubled relationship.  But since the world first learned late last year of a new and deadly virus in the Chinese mainland city of Wuhan, the expanse between the two cultures has only widened.

After two months of cover-up, the Chinese government finally admitted the COVID-19 virus was a problem. The doctor who had originally brought the problem to light in December had been silenced and forced to sign a document saying he made false statements had already died of the virus. The Chinese government then set about forcibly removing people from their apartments, packing citizens in windowless steel boxes on pickup trucks, and welding people’s doors shut, to keep people quarantined. The whole country put a near 60-million-person province on lockdown.

Screenshot from Juuv
Citizens in Wuhan scream as they are loaded into steel boxes with no windows

The World Health Organization’s leader, who served in a repressive Marxist regime in Ethiopia from 2012 to 2016, called China “heroic” and reprimanded President Trump for his travel ban to the country. Indeed, the more China invested in a country the less likely it was to close its borders, which is partly to blame for Iran’s and Italy’s have such bad outbreaks. It also helped that the Chinese government gave $20 million to the WHO in 2017. China also “wants to build an $80 million headquarters for the Africa centers for disease control and prevention.” Coincidentally, they plan on building the headquarters in the same country where the current WHO leader is from. 

Although the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced that it is now seeing no new cases and plans to reopen the economy, officials and Chinese citizens are skeptical. Either way, with the domestic pandemic “solved” China has turned to the world and has begun profiting off other countries outbreaks, selling Spain half a billion dollars of supplies, some of which are faulty. 

Yet, a different Chinese government had a very different response. The island of Taiwan, which is ruled by the government that the CCP pushed out of the mainland after the Chinese Civil War, isn’t considered a country. Despite having its own passports, currency, and government, CCP pressure in the United Nations has prevented nearly every country from recognizing Taiwan. 

Still, the country is highly developed, boasting a military similar in size to Israel and Italy’s, and is home to many global corporations such as Acer and Foxconn. However, because it is not a member of the UN, it has access to none of the WHO resources. Knowing this, one would think the country would be hit hard by the coronavirus, but they would be wrong.

 Three weeks before the CCP announced the virus was a serious problem, Taiwan began screening people coming from planes from the mainland, starting on December 31, 2019. The country immediately began to educate its population on the dangers of the virus and how to protect themselves from it. It began a mask rationing system to prevent people from hoarding masks and increased production of them. 

The Taiwanese learned their lesson before the rest of the world. When Taiwan was hit particularly badly by the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s, the country established the National Health Command Center. According to Time Magazine, “It quickly compiled a list of 124 “action items,” including border controls, school and work policies, public communication plans and resource assessments of hospitals.” The center also began compiling data from the country’s health insurance and travel systems. People coming into the country considered high risk were quarantined at home and tracked on their phone to ensure they followed the quarantine. Although some might find it worrisome the government could track people’s phone, by efficiently quarantining targeted people, the country could remain more open.

Graphic by The New York Times

The country has offered its people free testing as well as food and housing for those infected. The government has tried to remain as transparent as possible, issuing hourly updates and methods to slow the spread. The results of their response are staggering. Spain and Italy’s first case was confirmed on January 31st, while Germany’s was on January 27th. Ignoring that Taiwan’s first case was a week earlier on the 21st but adjusting for population, if Taiwan were Italy it would have 31,000 cases and 3,000 deaths. If it were Spain those numbers would be 29,000 and 2,200; Germany would be 12,000 and 75. Even if mainland China’s numbers were proportioned down, with their brutal response, Taiwan’s numbers would be 1500 and 64. Taiwan’s actual numbers are 252 cases and 2 deaths.

These numbers are absolutely shocking. The Communist Party should be ashamed by their response and how their corruption and global pressure hurt so many other countries and made the organization created to protect them meaningless and hollow. Although their method of tracking people warrants questions and scrutiny, the world should be looking at Taiwan very seriously now.

This story was originally published on The Uproar on March 30, 2020.