Taiwan’s Foreign Minister, Joseph Wu, on Thursday slammed Chinese disinformation efforts to mislead the global public on the coronavirus pandemic.
“Over the past few months, we have seen Beijing engage in a large-scale coordinated campaign to mislead our public on the disease and to undermine their trust in the government,” Wu said in remarks from Taiwan live-streamed at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.
“China has clearly shown that they do not want this crisis to go to waste,” he said. He also noted that China has been trying to argue that its handling of the coronavirus vis-a-vis Western democracies proves authoritarian regimes are more capable.
The most dangerous narrative to arise out of this global pandemic seems to me are the talking points that China is pushing around the world, that only authoritarian regimes have the resources and capabilities to deal with the problem. And while the outbreak will subside eventually, my concern is that this narrative may persist.
This narrative serves only one purpose. To further undermine free and open societies around the world.
He said Taiwan — as a democracy — is a counterweight to this Chinese narrative.
“We prove that there is a better way forward. The more we can amplify Taiwan’s story, our experiences in so far as successfully managing the crisis, the more difficult it is for authoritarian regimes to promote their alternative vision,” he said.
Wu spoke about Taiwan’s early successful efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus within its borders. To date, there have been fewer than 400 confirmed coronavirus cases and only five deaths in Taiwan, versus Beijing’s estimate of 81,000 confirmed cases and 3,300 deaths in China.
“If anyone asks me about the difference between the Taiwan model and the Chinese Communist model in fighting against COVID-19, I would say the most important factor is transparency and honesty,” he said. “Chinese Communists are institutionally incapable of telling the truth.”
Wu pointed to Chinese propaganda efforts to blame the coronavirus outbreak on others, such as the conspiracy theory that U.S. soldiers brought it to Wuhan, China.
“I think the United States these days is also having a small dose of what we have encountered in Taiwan for some time,” he said.
He also criticized Taiwan’s exclusion as a member of the World Health Organization (WHO), due to pressure from Beijing.
“Without timely access to critical information about the coronavirus, Taiwan risks becoming a gap in the global health system, undermining the very purpose of the WHO’s existence,” he said.
“And this also puts at risk everything we have worked so hard to accomplish, both in Taiwan and together with like-minded countries,” he said.