For reasons both good and bad, 2020 has perhaps been a banner year for Taiwan in terms of increased global identification and international acknowledgment of its contributions and plight against the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In January 2020, President Tsai Ingwen, a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was reelected to a second term, winning an unprecedented eight million-plus votes over her challenger, Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Han Kuo-yu. Between Tsai’s electoral victory in January and her inauguration in May, Taiwan— like every other nation on the planet—has battled COVID-19. Taiwan’s performance has garnered significant global praise. The way that the government has responded to the disease thus far resulted in what is called the “Taiwan model” since the country did not experience a massive shutdown akin to what occurred in China, Italy, and the United States. With slightly fewer than 500 cases as of September 1, and only seven deaths, Taiwan has been able to tout its response and work with countries in desperate need of help.
Partially due to Taiwan’s stellar response, it launched a very public push for inclusion in the May 2020 World Health Assembly, the annual meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO). It had the support of major players, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, and Europe, but due to Beijing’s pressure on other nations to exclude Taiwan from the meeting, it was clear that it didn’t have enough support. Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs took Taiwan’s inclusion off the agenda to not distract from the pressing COVID-19 discussion. Beginning with the United Nation’s 1971 decision to expel Taiwan from its General Assembly and admit the People’s Republic of China, the WHO decision is consistent with how international organizations and other nations have treated Taiwan. Only fifteen states officially recognize Taiwan today.