China has been increasing military pressure on Taiwan during the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a board made up of congressional Republicans and Democrats, warned in a report that China is engaging in aggressive military maneuvers directed towards Taiwan, Foreign Policy reported Tuesday. Chinese planes have been buzzing the median line of the Taiwan Strait separating the two countries, as well as circling the borders of Taiwan, over the course of the outbreak.
At the same time, China’s has continued to expand its presence in the South China Sea, the world’s busiest maritime trade route. The U.S. has conducted freedom of navigation operations in the area in April, with Defense Secretary Mark Esper telling reporters, “to send a clear message to Beijing that [the United States] will continue to protect freedom of navigation and commerce.”
While Taiwan considers itself an independent country, China claims the island nation as an extension of its territory, and bars international agencies including the World Health Organization from accepting Taiwan as a member state. On Monday the WHO announced it could not invite Taiwan to the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly because of “divergent views among member states.”
The congressional board’s report concluded that Taiwanese inclusion in the WHO could have significantly helped nations mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
“Had the WHO allowed Taiwan’s health experts to share information and best practices in early January, governments around the world could have had more complete information on which to base their public health policies,” the report said. Taiwan has seen just 440 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday.