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Taiwan is a "great example of how to deal with the coronavirus," expert says

Taiwan reports relatively few coronavirus cases
Taiwan's coronavirus response shines spotlight on international status 05:19

Taiwan is in the international spotlight for having been spared the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. The island has only seen just over 400 confirmed cases since the outbreak began, and is being lauded for its mitigation efforts despite being shut out from World Health Organization meetings. 

"This has been a really great several months for Taiwan in the international community," Isaac Stone Fish, senior fellow at the Asia Society Center on U.S. and China Relations, told CBSN anchors Vladimir Duthiers and Anne-Marie Green. "Taiwan has been such a great example of how to deal with the coronavirus, and they've used a mixture of smart tracing, mask wearing and frankly, calm, to help fight the virus." 

The island's government has experience dealing with infectious disease crises, namely the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s.

Aside from having a "more competent" health care system than China or the U.S., Stone Fish credited Taiwan for taking "concrete steps" at the very beginning of the crisis when other countries were slower to react.

Taiwan expanded temperature checking throughout its population of nearly 24 million, and the already-common practice there of wearing masks outside when sick contributed to their widespread use during the pandemic.

"I think a lot of countries are thinking, well, we can learn a lot from Taiwan. Why is Beijing not letting Taiwan get up and tell its story?" Stone Fish said.

The international attention given to Taiwan's pandemic response has renewed discussion about the  island's relationship with mainland China.

Stone Fish blamed Beijing's Communist Party for Taiwan's current status as what he called a "desperate supplicant that really wants to be involved with the international community."

"[China] frequently restricts it from joining any sort of international body because Beijing sees Taiwan as a wayward province that doesn't understand what it's missing by not being part of China," he said. 

Stone Fish also said Taiwan's international status is unlikely to change any time soon, despite the increased attention. 

"Beijing's primary foreign policy goal is to keep Taiwan sidelined so that Taiwan will eventually recognize its mistakes and rejoin with the motherland," he said. 

There have been growing calls for the World Health Organization to give Taiwan a seat at the table, including from the U.S., but according to Stone Fish "a lot more would have to happen in terms of how other countries view China" before the decades-old order was changed.

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