七國集團(G7)外長日前發布了支持台灣以觀察員身分出席世界衛生大會(WHA)的公報,再度催化了台灣今年參加世界衛生大會的冀望。

多年來台灣申請與會世界衛生大會未果,許多外國政府及相關單位亦持續聲援支持台灣以觀察員身份與會,尤其自去年全球疫情爆發之後,台灣在各大社群網戰一直高聲呼喊「#LetTaiwanHelp」和「#TaiwanCanHelp」這類主題標籤(hashtag),企圖在世界的抗疫舞台上嶄露頭角。

儘管有了七國集團首次替台灣背書,但就過去幾年的紀錄看來,台灣要拿到世界衛生大會的門票可能性並不高。在去年疫情爆發的最初階段、儘管當時執政的美國川普政府與其他小國政府曾熱烈支持台灣入會,中國的阻力仍然牢牢將台灣拒於世界衛生大會的大門之外。

筆者對於台灣長期下來,鍥而不捨想擠入世界衛生大會的毅力感到欽佩,但同時也希望台灣將外交能量投注在一些更切實的著眼點上。

假設川普當初贏得了第二個總統任期,美國會繼續拒絕參加世界衛生組織(WHO),這是美國保守派的政治家強力主張的外交政策,而這群人正好也就是台灣在美國的主要支持者。這些保守派人士長期排斥國際性多邊組織,時常就其官僚結構、資金來去,以及違背美國利益等方面大力批評。所以在川普的第二任期中的平行時空中,他很可能已經建立了另一個替代WHO的國際性衛生組織,目的是分散此類組織對中國的經濟與政治依賴,並招攬其他民主國家入會,台灣顯然是與會的最佳人選之一,此類政府對政府之外的國際交流平台也會是台灣很好的發聲管道。

然而這一切都沒有發生。現實中拜登政府在上任的第二天,即宣布美國將回歸成為世界衛生組織的一員,於是一切重新來過,台灣只好再次申請以觀察員身分參加世界衛生大會。很遺憾地,台灣參加世界衛生組織的意願不得不隨著美國當政者的替換而轉變。

然而,過去台灣政府與網民對於世衛組織的正當性,及其總幹事譚德塞做出許多強烈的批評,歹話說盡,同時世衛組織也在其官方網站宣布已經與台灣攜手建立對於新冠疫情的訊息交換機制,加上中國因素,世界衛生組織想當然耳不會敞開大門迎接台灣加入。

至於台灣人人耳熟能詳的「Taiwan can help」這個口號現在聽來似乎也流於過度承諾(over promise),台灣為疫情嚴重的國家提供了什麼樣的實質幫助?個人穿戴的防護裝備(如口罩、防護衣等)、呼吸輔助裝置等醫療資源在許多疫情嚴重的國家(如印度)都嚴重欠缺中。而「Taiwan can help」除了捐贈小量物資之外,help的主力在於宣傳台灣本身成功防疫。台灣的確防疫成功,然而台灣在疫情蔓延一開始就採取的防疫方式在不同的時空之下並不一定適用於其他國家,例如台灣在一開始就採取了邊境管控,但這個政策對於疫情已蔓延開的國家已經太遲。

此外,民眾普遍能接受戴口罩的習慣、政府對於個人交通路徑的追蹤(公布確診者資料、路徑等)奠基於台灣有身分證制度、中央健保制度、政府對於居家隔離者強制執行「電子圍籬智慧監控系統」等措施,雖然台灣很大方分享這些防疫方式,但許多國家的國情不同,例如沒有身分證制度的美國政府難以適用對於民眾個人資料的追蹤。此外,對疫情已爆發的國家而言,正在面臨的困境是當地封城的管制、進而影響到當地經濟活動的消長、以及如何控制大規模疫情的蔓延情況等問題。在對付新冠病毒上,台灣很幸運沒有這方面的經驗,但這也意味著台灣在疫情已經蔓延的情況下其實無能為力。這個時候其他國家正迫切施打疫苗以抗疫,但台灣就疫苗的供應目前也幫不上忙。迄今為止,台灣自己僅拿到了少量疫苗。

在過去幾年世界衛生大會期間,筆者觀察到台灣不得其門而入,只好以「pity party」方式在場邊活動。「pity party」在英文的意思是一些人聚在一起哭訴跟互相安慰的聚會,也就是我們中文說的「取暖大會」,這個詞很適用於這幾年來台灣參加WHA的情況。台灣代表團隊通常會在WHA主會場旁租下另一個小會場,在WHA主要會議的行程之外,另外邀請其他國家的代表與台灣的衛福部長等政府官員代表在此會面。那些願意來到場邊會晤台灣政府代表的外國官員,通常會充分表達對於台灣無法正式進入會場的遺憾與憤恨,讓在場的台灣代表能感受到友邦的溫暖與鼓勵。

除此之外,在WHA進行期間,這幾年來一些非政府組織或台灣政府機構(包括駐外代表處)也會在世界各地抗議台灣被排拒在國際大會的事實,這的確可能引起他國政治人物或媒體的同情,但仍未改變台灣始終被排除在外的事實。台灣每年舉辦的「台灣全球健康論壇」,亦未吸引太多外國政府參與,也缺乏國際媒體的關注。

筆者認為有一個簡單的解決方案,就是直到世界衛生組織跑來邀請台灣加入他們之前,台灣不再卑微乞求以觀察員身份參加世界衛生大會。世界衛生組織要來邀請台灣加入,可能需要美國和其他志同道合的權力國家對世界衛生組織施加更大壓力,或者某一天世界衛生組織的領導階層願意挑戰中國立場。在那之前,台灣不需要靠「取暖大會」來建立與其他國家的友好關係。

美國喜劇演員格魯喬‧馬克思曾說過:「我不屑加入任何可以讓我成為會員的俱樂部。(I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member)」台灣若採取這樣的態度,不再因被國際組織排擠而悲傷,或許更能提升國格,也有助於建立民眾的自信。(作者為美國共和黨海外部前亞太區主席)

※原文:

Cease the Annual Pity Party

By Ross Darrell Feingold

The author is a former Asia chairman of Republicans Abroad

The recent statement in the Group of 7 foreign ministers joint communique to support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in World Health Organization (WHO) forums and the World Health Assembly (WHA) has renewed hope that Taiwan will in fact be able to attend the WHA this year as an observer. Of course, such hopes were high last year in the months following the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, and, in earlier years when various governments or parliamentarians around the world would issue statements in support of Taiwan’s observer status. The hashtags #LetTaiwanHelp and #TaiwanCanHelp will once again spread on social media in support of Taiwan’s hope.

Although it is new for the Group of 7 foreign ministers to jointly support Taiwan’s hope, as we know from past years experience, the likelihood is low that Taiwan can attend the WHA an observer. Even amid the spread of Covid-19 in 2020, and with the enthusiastic support of the United States (and to a lesser extent other governments), China prevented Taiwan from participating as an observer.

We have to recognize a few realities in this situation, and stop deceiving ourselves.

Had the Trump Administration won a second term, the United States would have proceeded with its withdrawal from the WHO. This is a position enthusiastically supported by conservative foreign policy experts in the United States, who are also Taiwan’s key supporters. Conservatives in the United States have long criticized multilateral organizations’ ability to build bureaucracies, spend money, and take actions that run counter to United States interests. A second Trump administration is likely to have established an alternative global health organization, one open to democracies or countries who wish to reduce economic or political reliance on China. Taiwan would have participated as a member, and Taiwan would have enthusiastically supported such an organization as a separate track with which to maintain government-to-government contact with other countries. The Biden Administration announced on its second day in office that the United States will remain a WHO member, and not surprisingly, Taiwan has once again sought to participate in the WHA as an observer. This creates a situation where Taiwan’s desire to participate in the WHO appears inseparable from who the United States president is. When combined with criticisms by either the Taiwan government or Taiwan netizens of the WHO or its Director General Tedros Adhanom, and the reality that Taiwan does have in fact have some information sharing with the WHO about COVID-19, it is no surprise that the WHO bureaucracy is not eager to push back against China’s opposition to Taiwan’s meaningful participation.

Taiwan should not over promise what help it can provide to countries that still suffer from the Covid-19 pandemic and might also recognize that a degree of modesty should apply. Taiwan can provide personal protection equipment or assist with addressing an oxygen shortage such as the current situation in India. However, Taiwan’s success in keeping the number of Covid-19 cases low arises from closing the border to most inbound travelers (other than returning citizens and foreign residents), mask wearing, and contact tracing based on personal information available to government agencies via identity cards, the national health insurance system, and mandatory use of health monitoring apps. Such measures are not mysteries to policy makers around the world, though some countries (including many conservatives in the United States) would oppose such measures. The kind of help that countries need now other than personal protection equipment are strategies for when to impose and end lockdowns, or how to control large outbreaks. Fortunately, Taiwan does not have experience in this, but this also means Taiwan is unable to help provide advice about these matters. Similarly, other countries are currently in need of assistance to procure and administer vaccines, but Taiwan has little help to offer in this regard, especially given that to date, Taiwan has only obtained and administered a small number of vaccines.

In past years, this author has opined around the time of the WHA that Taiwan enjoys organizing “pity party” activities. A “pity party” is an activity that generates a self-indulgent feeling sorry for oneself. Typically, Taiwan’s delegation to the WHA will rent a room in a venue near the WHA meeting, and Taiwan government officials including the Minister of Health and Welfare will meet with government officials from other countries. It is as if the other governments who meet with Taiwan’s Minister of Health and Welfare come to offer their pity at Taiwan’s inability to attend the actual WHA meeting. Some Taiwan non-government organizations, or Taiwan government agencies (including Taiwan’s representative offices) have held events in various cities or in Geneva to protest Taiwan’s exclusion, which might attract the pity of sympathetic foreign politicians and media, but do not change the reality of Taiwan’s exclusion. Taiwan also annually holds the Global Health Forum in Taiwan, an event that attracts the participation of only low level officials from foreign government officials, and receives little global media attention.

There is a simple solution to this. At least until such time as the WHO seeks Taiwan’s participation, Taiwan can cease its annual begging to observe the WHA. This might require more pressure on the WHO from the United States and other like-minded countries, or a willingness by the WHO’s leadership to challenge China’s position. In the meantime, for Covid-19 or other health related issues, Taiwan can continue to rely on its well-developed government-to-government contacts with important countries, and stop the “pity party” activities. It would be refreshing if Taiwan publicly told the world that the government and people of Taiwan are no longer interested in participating in an organization that has the WHO’s problems.

The American comedian Groucho Marx is famous for saying “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”. Taiwan might consider taking this advice.

#台灣 #世界衛生大會 #世界衛生組織 #WHA #參加