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Containing COVID-19: A Look into Taiwan’s Response to the Global Pandemic

June 4, 2020

Online Video: Containing COVID-19, A Look Into Taiwan’s Response to the Global Pandemic, and New Youtube Channel

The University of Washington Taiwan Studies Program and East Asia Center are excited to present a special online roundtable event with guests William Yang and Jessica Drun in conversation with UW Taiwan Studies faculty James Lin. Join us for this discussion with journalist William Yang and researcher Jessica Drun on how Taiwan successfully contained the spread of COVID-19, lessons for the US and other countries, and how Taiwan’s response put Taiwan’s continued exclusion from the World Health Organization into the spotlight. 

In his opening presentation, William Yang discusses Taiwan’s containment strategies,  highlighting the early mobilization of the Taiwanese CDC National Command Center, and the government’s transparency and willingness to communicate new information and monitoring strategies with the people of Taiwan as cornerstones of Taiwan’s early success. Yang also spends time talking about the internal cooperation within the Taiwanese government and its comprehensive data sharing between different departments and the Ministry of Health to ensure proper monitoring of the spread of infection.

In a pivot from Taiwan’s domestic response toward the country’s international role during the public health crisis, Jessica Drun focuses on Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Organization and the dangerous implications it has on global public health. Following the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-Wen, Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly, the governing body of the WHO, as an observer was revoked. As the pandemic continues to spread across the globe,  medical information from Taiwan that could help other countries mobilize their own containment programs was not shared by the WHO. Drun suggests that China’s refusal to allow the WHO to restore Taiwan’s observer status stems from their prioritization of their “One Country, Two Systems” policy, putting cross-strait relations ahead of public health. 

The in-depth Q&A session covers multiple relevant topics including mask diplomacy, Taiwan’s new global platform, and other countries’ growing willingness to call for Taiwan’s observer status to be reinstated. 

This pre-recorded online event is the first of an ongoing series of programs available exclusively on our YouTube channel.  Keep an eye out for more UW Taiwan Studies online events!

William Yang is a journalist based in Taiwan, where he writes about politics, society, and human rights issues in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. His work has appeared in BuzzFeed News, the Guardian, the Independent, South China Morning Post, and Deutsche Welle. He is also a regular on-air correspondent for CTV and Radio New Zealand.

Jessica Drun is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Project 2049 Institute. She was previously a Project Associate at the National Bureau of Asian Research and has also held positions at the National Defense University and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Her research interests include cross-Strait relations, Taiwan domestic politics, U.S.-China relations, and U.S.-Taiwan relations. She graduated with an MA in Asian Studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 2015 and an AB in International Affairs from the University of Georgia in 2011. She spent a year abroad in Taiwan as a 2014-15 Boren National Security Fellow.

This event was made possible by the generous support of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange.