Question / Taiwan: Coronavirus

Q Asked by Lord Blencathra
Asked on: 13 February 2020

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Taiwan: Coronavirus / HL1631

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the World Health Organisation about including the 18 cases of coronavirus on Taiwan with the 40,000 in China; and whether they are concerned that this misrepresents the true position in Taiwan.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Answered on: 26 February 2020

Alongside a number of like-minded countries, the UK has raised at the highest levels of the World Health Organisation the importance of having accurate data on Taiwan. It is crucial that there is an accurate picture of how the virus is spreading globally. Public Health England reports cases in mainland China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), Macau SAR and Taiwan separately.


Question / Taiwan: Coronavirus

Q Asked by Lord Blencathra
Asked on: 13 February 2020

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Taiwan: Coronavirus / HL1632

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the World Health Organisation about sharing its information on coronavirus with the government of Taiwan separately from the information that that organisation has shared with the government of China.

A Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Answered on: 26 February 2020

Alongside a number of like-minded countries, the UK has raised, at the highest levels of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the importance of all states and territories having access to the most up to date information about COVID-19. This is consistent with the UK’s longstanding position that Taiwan should be able to meaningfully participate in international organisations such as the WHO, where statehood is not a prerequisite and it can contribute to the global good.


Question / Coronavirus: Taiwan

Q Asked by Lord Blencathra
Asked on: 13 February 2020

Department of Health and Social Care
Coronavirus: Taiwan / HL1634

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to ensure that their announcements on the number of cases of coronavirus will disaggregate the figures for Taiwan from those of China.

A Answered by: Lord Bethell
Answered on: 26 February 2020

Public Health England reports separately on cases in mainland China and Taiwan and other places. This data can be found online on the COVID-19: epidemiology, virology and clinical features page on the Government website. As of 25 February 2020, there are 77,658 confirmed cases in mainland China and 31 confirmed cases in Taiwan.


Debate / Taiwan

10 February 2020
Volume 801


Asked by

Baroness Falkner of Margravine
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their policy towards Taiwan, and in particular on (1) security, and (2) international engagement issues.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con)
My Lords, the United Kingdom’s long-standing policy on Taiwan is unchanged. The UK and Taiwan have a strong but unofficial relationship based on dynamic commercial, educational and cultural ties. We support Taiwan’s participation in international organisations where statehood is not a prerequisite, and Taiwan can make a valuable contribution. On security, we are concerned by any activity that risks destabilising the status quo. Issues should be settled between people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Baroness Falkner of Margravine (Non-Afl)
I thank the Minister for that reply. Is he aware of fresh Chinese attempts at economic coercion against Taiwan since the re-election of President Tsai Ing-wen last month, including attempts at the United Nations to stop parliamentarians engaging with her Government? Does he agree that when China presents its “one country, two systems” policy to Taiwan alongside military threats, along with the tangible example of Hong Kong, that is more likely to convince the Taiwanese to be rather sceptical of Chinese assurances as to their future?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
On the structure and the relationship with Taiwan, as I said in my original Answer, it remains the Government’s view that it is very much for those on both sides of the Taiwan Strait—representatives in Taiwan and China—to determine the best way forward in the interests of the people of Taiwan. As for the noble Baroness’s broader question on the United Nations, as I have said, for organisations such as ICAO and the World Health Organization, our view is that being a state is not a prerequisite to membership. We remain very clear, with our like-minded partners, that Taiwan’s contribution to those organisations is important and that it has a vital role to play.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab)
My Lords, I declare my interest as the Government’s trade envoy to Taiwan; the Minister will know that this constrains me a little in what I can say in the Chamber. Will the Minister take back to his right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary the very great satisfaction among the friends of Taiwan at the statement made by Mr Raab after the legislative and presidential election? He offered warm congratulations to the people of Taiwan on the smooth conduct of those elections, and to Dr Tsai Ing-wen and her party on her re-election.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
My Lords, I will of course be pleased to take back those comments to my right honourable friend. It is important that we recognise the democratic process in Taiwan. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the noble Lord’s work on the relationship between the United Kingdom and Taiwan, specifically on trade. It is, I am sure, in part his efforts, alongside those of British companies, that have resulted in a rising level of trade. Indeed, UK exports to Taiwan grew by 40.8% last year.

Baroness Fall (Con)
Does the Minister believe that the President of the United States would feel bound by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act? It states that America will

“consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States”,

and will

“make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.”

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
My Lords, my noble friend will appreciate that it is not for me to comment on United States policy. I can, however, reaffirm that the United Kingdom remains committed to our relationship with Taiwan. As I said in response to an earlier question, we are committed to the importance of trade and culture, and we have seen the prosperity of that: the economy of Taiwan is bigger than that of many Asian economies. It is important that we strengthen our work in this respect. On the wider point of resolving any issues between Taipei and Beijing, it is important that both sides negotiate the issues that need to be addressed. That is the best way forward.

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab)
My Lords, I agree with the Minister: the ultimate relationship has to be determined by those two entities. However, he mentioned multilateral organisations, in particular the World Health Organization. We are currently facing a global crisis, and it is important that countries and entities such as Taiwan play their full part in it. What representations has he made to the WHO to ensure that Taiwan can play a full part in the work to ensure that the public interest and the people of the world are put first, before politics?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
I agree with the noble Lord. Indeed, in preparing for the Question, I asked how many identifiable cases of coronavirus there are in Taiwan; currently there are eight. It is important that it is part and parcel of the solution. I assure the noble Lord that we continue to support representations that the Department of Health has made directly in lobbying for Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization. We are also working with like-minded countries, including the United States and Australia, to ensure that, at the World Health Assembly which takes place in May this year, Taiwan is represented.

Lord Dholakia (LD)
My Lords, Taiwan is a democracy, and yet it is being denied recognition by many Governments across the world. We now have a situation, as has been pointed out, where the World Health Organization, which prides itself on promoting inclusive health for all humanity, has excluded Taiwan from its membership and does not allow it to participate in the World Health Assembly. What are we doing with the World Health Organization to ensure that Taiwan has at least a slot in the World Health Assembly at this stage?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
I have always wanted to say this from the Dispatch Box: I refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave some moments ago.

Lord Broers (CB)
My Lords, is the Minister aware of Taiwan’s importance when it comes to semiconductor technology? Taiwan leads the world in making semiconductor chips. In fact, it is said that the latest artificial intelligence and machine learning chips can be made only in Taiwan; they cannot be made even in the United States.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
The noble Lord makes a very important point. It is why the United Kingdom is very committed to growing our trading relationship with Taiwan. Currently, more than 300 UK companies are located across a variety of sectors, including the one the noble Lord mentioned.

Co-Chair and President’s joint letter to Director-General of WHO

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva

Dear Director-General,

On behalf of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), which is comprised of more than 140 members from the two chambers of the UK Parliament, we wish to express our deepest concern over the WHO’s Situation Reports on the 2019 novel coronavirus incorrectly listing Taiwan as part of China.

As you are surely aware, Taiwan is not under China’s jurisdiction, and Taiwan’s and China’s health care systems are administered by separate and independent health authorities. The WHO’s decision to list Taiwan as part of China in its reports therefore seriously hinders the timely exchange of information between the proper authorities. This in turn dangerously undermines the international effort to address this global health emergency which is worsening at a worrying rate.

Listing Taiwan under China in the WHO reports also wrongly suggests that Taiwan, like China, possesses “very high risk” of the 2019 novel coronavirus, while in fact the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Taiwan is lower than in most countries that are affected. With very limited cases and zero death toll, the situation in Taiwan in well managed and controlled by its health authority. Thus this incorrect information from the WHO has led to inappropriate policy decisions, like the one recently made by the Italian government to ban flights from Taiwan as of 31 January, causing unnecessary harm to all relevant parties.

Furthermore, the WHO’s treatment of Taiwan as part of China not only means that Taiwan’s democratically-elected government is barred from participating in the WHA, but also that Taiwanese health experts are prevented from taking part in WHO technical meetings. This seriously contradicts with the WHO’s motto of “health for all” and “leaving no one behind”, and renders the pursuit of a seamless global health security network impossible.

For all the reasons above, we respectfully urge the WHO to immediately correct this error of treating Taiwan as part of China, including wrongfully designating Taiwan under China in any reports. We also call upon the WHO to invite Taiwan to attend this year’s WHA as an observer and make proper arrangements to enable Taiwan’s full participation in WHO meetings, mechanisms and activities. We look forward to Taiwan’s timely inclusion in the WHO under your capable leadership.

Yours sincerely,

Lord Rogan, Co-Chair                            Lord Steel of Aikwood, President

Ms Kate White, Director for Asia-Pacific, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Ms Clara Swinson, Director General for Global and Public Health, Department of Health and Social Care

Statement on supporting Taiwan’s meaningful participation in INTERPOL General Assembly 2019

As the Co-Chairs of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group, we have for many years supported Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organisations where Taiwan can make concrete contributions, including INTERPOL. Therefore, we were dismayed to learn that Taiwan has yet to be invited to participate in the upcoming 88th INTERPOL General Assembly in Chile as an observer due to unnecessary political considerations. We believe this will in turn obstruct the collective interests of the international community.

According to Article 2 of INTERPOL’s Constitution, INTERPOL’s aims are ‘to ensure and promote the widest possible mutual assistance between all criminal police authorities…’ Transnational crime is rampant in today’s globalized world, thus we must establish a reliable and seamless global law enforcement network without gaps. To this end, the cooperation of police authorities from all over the world is indispensable, and Taiwan’s presence is essential to the realization of this objective.

Taiwan has a population of 23.5 million people which exceeds the population of over 100 of the Members of INTERPOL. It is also a major hub for the movement of capital, goods, and people. More than 68.9 million passengers travelled through Taiwan in 2018 alone. Taiwan’s ability in sharing international security intelligence and combatting cross-border crime would contribute to the global security and counter terrorism efforts. Its continued exclusion from INTERPOL undermines the global endeavor to fight terrorism, illicit drugs, telecom fraud, cybercrime, and other new forms of transnational crime, diminishing the effectiveness of the international law enforcement network.

Therefore, we support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in INTERPOL, including in its General Assembly as an observer and in its meetings, mechanisms and activities. We also support Taiwan to gain access to the I-24/7 Global Police Communications System and partake in key training programs, in order to fill the gap in the global security network and create together a safer world.

evans    Rogan
Nigel Evans MP                             Lord Rogan