Czech Republic Senator Pavel Fischer says there are risks of continuing to exclude Taiwan from active participation in WHO.
The Sunday Guardian talked to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) co-chair and Member of the Czech Senate, Pavel Fischer; he is also chair of the Czech Republic Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security. Excerpts:
Q: Sir, you recently led the IPAC statement urging WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to include Taiwan as an observer in this week’s WHO Assembly and future meetings, mechanisms and activities. What expertise can Taiwan bring to the world to help fight Covid-19, and any future health crises?
A: The successful outcome of Taiwan in the ongoing health crises is remarkable. In the Czech Republic, we make every effort to produce high quality protection equipment, while in Taiwan, they organised the inland production outstandingly soon. While we have difficulties to cope with the high numbers of cases of Covid-19 positive Czech citizens and sustain the economic activity, Taiwan has masterful results in meeting both highest public health standards while keeping the economy in best conditions. If there are lessons to be learned and taken into consideration by the international community, it is in our own interest to invite Taipei at the table.
Q: You visited Taiwan in September; how do the Taiwanese people feel about being marginalised when they have such a valuable contribution to make?
A: The visit of the delegation of members of the Senate of the Czech Republic in Taiwan was a unique occasion to exchange on how the democracies should reinforce cooperation today. I understood how strong is the motivation of Taiwanese citizens in developing mutual support, contacts and synergies. The energy and motivation were unique and the public opinion in our country is very supportive.
Q: What are the obstacles that are preventing Taiwan being included?
A: As far as obstacles preventing Taiwan being included are concerned, from our own historical experience, we know that, oftentimes, the communist nomenklatura used to prefer acting against long term interest of the country and of citizens. While I analyse the current leadership of the Chinese communist party, I recognise some of the lessons learned from the past of communism in Europe. As far as I am concerned, personally, I favour inviting Taiwan to the concert of international cooperation. Health issues do not respect borders and do not show special consideration to leadership of any political party. And I am happy the government of the Czech Republic recently voiced the Czech support of Taiwan’s bid to become observer at WHO/WHA. It is of paramount importance. We are convinced that global health goes beyond politics.
Q: What are the risks of continuing to exclude Taiwan from active participation in WHO?
A: The risks of continuing to exclude Taiwan are of serious concern to us. International cooperation in the areas of public health require that every single actor who has an authority providing health care to the citizens has to take part. And in the case of Taiwan, we do not have only an actor who delivered and has an outstanding track record in challenging the pandemic situation, but surpasses as champion in terms of R&D and innovations. Humanity would be less resilient if Taiwanese experience is not taken into consideration.
Q: What can Dr Harsh Vardhan, India’s Minister of Health and current Chair of WHO’s Executive Board, do to encourage the WHO and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to allow Taiwan to participate?
A: The international organisations cannot act without paying attention to the will of citizens of our respective countries. WHO is not a club with exclusive membership. Health issues are not to be restricted by the political agenda of particular countries. Dr Harsh Vardhan, as Chair of World Health Organization’s Executive Board, can rely on our support. The current stalemate will not last forever.