Shunning Taiwan is Dangerous to Your Health

In 2006, Members of the European Parliament were warned that keeping Taiwan out of the World Health Organization (WHO) increased the risk of a bird flu pandemic on the continent. Experts asked the EU to put pressure on China to remove its objections to Taiwanese involvement in avian influenza defense structures organized by the WHO. Birds fly freely; bird flu recognizes no borders.
Taiwan has 200,000 health professionals, yet, due to Mainland Chinese pressure, they are not allowed to assist the WHO in fighting global pandemics. This hurts not only Taiwan, but the rest of the world too. Palestinians, who have no State, have observer status in the WHO, but Taiwan does not. Taiwan should be part of a proper global public health network in order to protect the world. The problem of co-operation in pandemic preparedness could be solved at the stroke of a pen.
In 2007, the WHO Director General Margaret Chan, was criticized for failing to notify Taiwan about a food borne outbreak in Thailand. Because Taiwan is a major hub for trans-shipping cargo there was a real risk of contaminated products being trans-shipped to other states.
A US Congressman expressed the hope that in the future the WHO would focus more on carrying out its mission and less on complying with Communist China’s foreign policy demands. The WHO’s motto is, after all, “Health For All”.
Finally, in 2009, the WHO recognized the importance of Taiwan and the necessity of including the nation in matters concerning the health of the whole world by bestowing upon the country the status of Observer to the WHA, the World Health Assembly, which is the decision- making body of WHO. Mainland China, in reflection of the ever-improving relations between the two countries did not object.
The WHA is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed program budget. The Health Assembly is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland. On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 2 of which states: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self- governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.” It is obvious to all that Taiwan and Mainland China share the same race, colour, sex, language, and religious beliefs; they differ only in matters political.
The United Nations has failed to live up to its own Declaration of Human Rights in violating the Rights of Taiwan and its 24 million people for political reasons. The World’s business community recognizes, of course, the importance of Taiwan. More and more, international companies are listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange, ironically enough, because it is helpful for business in Mainland China. Array Networks is a Silicon Valley hardware company that sells devices that encrypt network traffic. When the security vendor was ready for an initial public offering, it headed to Taipei. On its first day of trading, the stock opened at about 46 cents, and closed at $1.22.
Array has 200 employees in Mainland China, and, had a 43% market share there in 2007 for its principal devices, making Mainland China a natural choice for an initial public offering. However, China does not allow foreign companies to be listed on its stock exchange, whereas Taiwan does. Economically, Mainland China benefits from Taiwan’s policies, while it continues to insist the rest of the world boycott its closest relative and deny the people of Taiwan representation in the halls of international organizations. ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, is yet another body that is essential to the safely and health of all people. One would assume that its intention was to include all nations whose territory has “airspace” in which flights operate. However, yet again, due to the opposition of Mainland China, Taiwan is refused membership; not even its modest requests for observer status to safeguard the security of international flights transiting its territory are heeded. Annex 6 of the Convention of Civil Aviation exists “to contribute to the safety of international air navigation by providing criteria for safe operating practices, and to contribute to the efficiency and regularity of international air navigation.”
Of course, Taiwan conforms to the regulations and ensures the safe passage, efficiency and regularity of international air traffic, but the country is neither recognized, nor its contribution acknowledged, by the international community. Taiwan airspace is amongst the safest and most efficiently run in the world.
Without the efforts of Taiwan, the potentially dangerous gap created by Mainland China’s freezing out of Taiwan in the global aviation network would present an extreme hazard to the safe transit of literally millions of air passengers each year through Taiwanese airspace. Taiwan’s aviation authorities exchange important aviation information thousands of times daily with almost every country worldwide that might conceivably use its airspace or be affected by events in Taiwan, yet ICAO refuses to allow the country to partake in any of its meetings, mechanisms or activities.
What is even more amazing and incomprehensible is that ICAO, in its 18th council session, gave Taiwan, a country it does not recognize nor allow to partake in its meetings, the approval to establish the Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR), making Taiwan an important link between Hong Kong, Manila in the Philippines, and Fukuoka, Japan, FIRs. There are 12 international routes and 4 domestic routes in Taipei FIR; 23 million passengers from all over the world on 400,000 flights are safely guided by Taiwanese Air Traffic Controllers within Taipei Flight Information Region each year. In all probability, not one
single passenger ever
reflects on the fact that he or she is being guarded over by angels on the ground that, officially, do not exist. Taipei FIR provides Air Traffic control service in a safe, expedient, and orderly manner in accordance with international standards and regulations, real time and long term flight information to aircraft, airports and airlines, airport weather conditions, short term weather forecast, satellite images and en route weather forecasts.
FIR authorities also provide Aeronautical Telecommunication Services consisting of telecommunication services between specified fixed points provided primarily for the safety of air navigation and for the regular, efficient and economical operation of air services’ two-way communication between stations on the surface of the earth and aircraft.
Given all the above, ICAO should, just as the WHO did in 2009, recognize the reality of Taiwan’s contribution to aviation in the world. Taiwan is an essential partner in global aviation, a country whose services to Aviation have
been recognized and
approved by ICAO. There is absolutely no reason why Taiwan should not take its place, perhaps initially with observer status, at all ICAO meetings.
This is not a matter for politics; it is a question of safety, decency, and the recognition of reality. If the world of aviation and the International Civil Aviation Organization authority in particular cannot agree
on the participation of Taiwan in its meetings, mechanisms and activities, perhaps it is time for aircraft to be marked with warnings like packs of cigarettes: “The Surgeon General has determined that aviation may be hazardous to your health”.

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