On Jan. 2, the New York Times published an article titled “How Taiwan Plans to Stay (Mostly) Covid-Free,” which asks the question: How much longer can Taiwan’s good fortune last?
The article describes Taiwan as a “twilight zone” of an “alternate reality” where life goes on as normal amid a pandemic that has wreaked havoc on so many countries around the world.
By March last year, the COVID-19 pandemic had reached New York City and I, as a doctoral student at New York University, continued living in the city for another five months before returning to Taiwan.
A range of epidemic control measures — including mask wearing, social distancing, meticulous handwashing and even sealing off the city — were employed by the local authorities. The measures certainly had an effect in reducing the impact of the initial wave of the pandemic.
Comparing the respective successes that Taiwan and New York City have had in combating COVID-19, sealing ourselves off from China should be the primary means of pandemic prevention and control ahead of these other measures.
As a matter of course, mainstream media outlets around the world should adopt a skeptical attitude toward any information and news emanating from China.
Right from the start, when news of a mysterious novel coronavirus outbreak in China’s Wuhan first came to light, the Chinese government began to spread misinformation.
Chinese officials initially claimed that there was no human-to-human transmission. When that became untenable, they said there was only “limited” human-to-human transmission. When that was proved to be demonstrably false, officials began to push the line that the epidemic was “preventable and under control.”
China’s “preventable and under control” pandemic has now infected more than 92 million people, caused almost 2 million deaths and incalculable global economic losses.
The New York Times is one of the oldest publications within the US’ fourth estate. However, aside from updating its readers on the virus’ spread and mutation, and providing criticism of the handling of the virus by US President Donald Trump’s administration, it has run precious little coverage of Beijing’s COVID-19 cover-up. This leads one to question whether, behind the scenes, there are other considerations at play.
Following the outbreak of the pandemic, Taiwanese crowd-sourced a “Taiwan Can Help” advertisement in the New York Times. The underlying message was that Taiwan can help, not just in terms of providing medical equipment and resources, and other assistance to nations affected by COVID-19, but also by helping countries around the world to put up the defenses they need to protect themselves from China.
The US and European nations are now in the process of vaccinating their populations against COVID-19. As we wait for the world to return to normal, we must ensure that China is fully held to account for all the damage, death and destruction caused by the pandemic.
Chien Mu-hua is a doctoral student at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.
Translated by Edward Jones
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